Kamala Harris rips Trump administration's response to coronavirus pandemic in only debate with Mike Pence
From CNN's Maeve Reston
California Sen. Kamala Harris delivered a swift condemnation of the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic during the opening of Wednesday's vice presidential debate, noting that some 210,000 people have died and more than 7.5 million people have contracted the disease.
"The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country," Harris said, arguing that frontline workers had been treated like "sacrificial workers" and that Trump had repeatedly minimized the seriousness of the virus, while discouraging people from wearing masks.
"Today they still don't have a plan. Well, Joe Biden does," Harris said. " We need to save our country" she said, adding that the current administration had forfeited its right to a second term through its mishandling of the pandemic."
Former CDC director urges Redfield to arrange his own firing to change the course of the US pandemic response
From CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht, Shelby Lin Erdman and Nick Valencia
In a personal letter, a lauded former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director wrote to current CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield to say that the agency’s reputation was “tarnished” during the coronavirus pandemic response and that Redfield had a “short window to change things.”
The letter was first reported and posted by USA Today on Tuesday.
“The White House has had no hesitation to blame and disgrace CDC, you and state governors,” Dr. William Foege wrote in the letter USA Today posted. “They will blame you for the disaster. In six months, they have caused CDC to go from gold to tarnished brass.”
Foege is a lauded epidemiologist who led the CDC during the Carter and Reagan administrations. He is a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and is credited with devising the global strategy that led to the eradication of smallpox in the late 1970s.
“I kept hoping that the White House task force would see what they're doing isn't working and would change, but this is going to go down as one of the worst responses to a pandemic,” Foege told ABC News Wednesday. In his letter to Redfield, Foege wrote: “You could upfront, acknowledge the tragedy of responding poorly, apologize for what has happened and your role in acquiescing, set a course for how CDC would now lead the country if there was no political interference ... Don't shy away from the fact this has been an unacceptable toll on our country. It is a slaughter and not just a political dispute.” “When they fire you, this will be a multi-week story and you can hold your head high. That will take exceptional courage on your part,” Foege wrote. “I can't tell you what to do except to revisit your religious beliefs and ask yourself what is right.”
Foege has not responded to CNN’s request for comment. A CDC spokesman said the agency was looking into the letter and planned to respond.
8:47 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020
Global coronavirus cases surpass 36 million
From CNN's Hande Atay Alam
The number of coronavirus cases across the globe surpassed 36 million on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
At least 36,026,644 people globally are known to have been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University's data.
The United States, India, and Brazil are the top three worst-hit countries with the highest coronavirus cases in the world. The United States is leading with at least 7,544,612 confirmed coronavirus cases, while in India the confirmed cases are at least 6,757,131. Brazil reported at least 5,000,694 cases on Wednesday.
The total number of people who are known to have died from coronavirus is at least 1,054,153, according to Johns Hopkins.
10:23 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020
Marine Corps assistant commandant tests positive for Covid-19
From CNN's Barbara Starr
Gen. Gary L. Thomas, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, has tested positive for Covid-19, the Marine Corps said in a statement Wednesday.
As CNN reported, Thomas had had been in self-quarantine since Tuesday after being notified he had been in close contact with a person who later tested positive for the virus.
“In accordance with established Marine Corps COVID policies, General Thomas will continue to quarantine at home. He is experiencing mild symptoms, but otherwise is feeling well. Since April, the Marine Corps has been following CDC and DoD guidelines for temperature testing, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, and the wearing of masks when social distancing is not possible. The Marine Corps remains operationally ready to answer the Nation’s call,” the statement said.
CNN reported yesterday Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and several members of the Pentagon's senior leadership, including Thomas, were quarantining after a top Coast Guard official tested positive for coronavirus.
As President Trump's top military adviser, Milley maintains a full classified communications suite in his house, and nobody in that group has tested positive at this point beside Thomas.
The chief of staff of the US Air Force, Charles Brown, the chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and the chief of Space Operations, Gen. John Raymond, also are all working from home, according to several officials.
Additional officials who were also working from alternate locations or from home include: Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army; Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard; Gen. Paul Nakasone, US Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.
“We are aware of General Thomas’ positive test for COVID-19. At this time we have no additional senior leader positive test results to report. We will continue to follow CDC guidance for self-quarantining and contact tracing,” Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement Wednesday.
6:31 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020
Brazil surpasses 5 million Covid-19 cases
From CNN's Hande Atay Alam
Brazil's health ministry reported 31,553 new cases Wednesday from Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases to 5,000,694.
The health ministry also reported 734 new confirmed coronavirus fatalities, bringing the total number of deaths to 148,228.
Brazil has the world's third highest coronavirus cases after the US and India and the world's second highest death toll after the US, according to Johns Hopkins University's data.
7:14 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020
Prestigious medical journal calls for US leadership to be voted out of office
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard
In an unprecedented move, the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday published an editorial written by its editors condemning the Trump administration for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic — and calling for the current leadership in the United States to be voted out of office.
"We rarely publish editorials signed by all the editors," said Dr. Eric Rubin, editor-in-chief of the medical journal and an author of the new editorial.
The editorial, which Rubin said was drafted in August, details how the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and deaths. So far, more than 7.5 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than 211,000 people have died of the disease.
"This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy," the editorial says.
"Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment," the editorial says.
"When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs."
The New England Journal of Medicine began publishing in 1812. There have been only four previous editorials collectively signed by its editors in the recent past.
4:38 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020
Jury trials will be allowed to resume in Georgia
From CNN's Devon M. Sayers
Trials by jury will be allowed to resume in Georgia, according to a release from the Supreme Court of Georgia.
The state halted all jury trials five months ago due to the pandemic.
“We have put into place rigorous safety protocols for grand jury proceedings and jury trials because we understand that the public must have confidence to come and serve on juries. It is paramount to all our judges that our citizens realize that their safety has been thoroughly considered,” Chief Justice Harold D. Melton said in a news release from the court.
The chief justice intends to issue the order Saturday that will allow courts to resume jury trials, according to the release. The order will require courts to follow safety guidelines.
“At the beginning of this emergency, we all hoped, and maybe even assumed, that this pandemic would come to a relatively quick end,” Melton said. The delay of trials has made it “difficult for everybody involved in our justice system – litigants, victims, witnesses, lawyers, judges, and jurors. We must move forward,” he added
While the court will allow trials to resume, they will not actually start right away since potential jurors will need to be summoned. In September, the Georgia Supreme Court allowed local courts to resume grand jury proceedings as longs as they could be "done safely and in compliance with public health guidance based on local conditions," the chief justice said at the time.
Georgia is home to more than 10 million people, according to the US Census. More than 7,000 have died and nearly 325,000 have been infected with Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
4:18 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020
Wisconsin reports record number of new Covid-19 hospitalizations
The state reported a total of 2,319 new cases of Covid-19 and 16 additional deaths, Palmer said.
Fifty five of the 72 counties in the state meet the threshold of "very high disease activity level," an increase of 10 counties last week, Palmer said. The rest of the counties are at a high disease activity level.
"Wisconsin as a whole is also at a very high disease activity level," Palmer added.
The state has reported a total of 138,698 coronavirus cases to date and 1,415 total deaths.
To note: These were released by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
4:09 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020
Staff member in California governor's office tests positive for Covid-19
From CNN's Cheri Mossburg
A staff member in California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week, according to a statement released by his office. This person had not interacted with Newsom or with staff that surrounds him on a regular basis.
Newsom has been tested on multiple occasions and the results have been negative, he said in a press conference Wednesday. The last time Newsom was tested was in mid-September when President Trump visited the state as wildfires raged. Newsom said earlier in the week that he “would have the responsibility, and you would have the right to know" should he test positive for the virus. “That would be forthcoming,” he said.
A second state employee at a different state agency who shares workspace with some members of the governor’s office also tested positive.
“In this instance as well, the individual had not interacted with the Governor or staff that routinely interacts with the Governor. Their employer has initiated the state’s COVID-19 protocols for state agencies as well,” the statement reads.
Both individuals work in the broader governor’s office at the Capitol, Newsom said in a press conference Wednesday. Newsom’s office declined to disclose the exact office location, citing privacy laws.