October 13 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020
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5:08 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Fauci says Covid-19 vaccine development "on a really good track"

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that current efforts toward Covid-19 vaccine development are “on a really good track” despite news that a second vaccine was put on hold this week. 

“A couple of the vaccines are very close to getting some sort of information,” Fauci said during a call with the nation’s governors Tuesday afternoon, according to audio of the call obtained by CNN. 

Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, mentioned vaccines being tested by Moderna and Pfizer. “We’re getting to the point where we’re almost being able to look at the first look at the data, which is a predetermined thing done by the data and safety monitoring board,” he said.

The vaccine effort, more broadly, “is on really a good track,” he said. “We should know by November or December whether or not we have a safe and effective vaccine,” he added. “It is conceivable that we might even know before then.”

The NIAID is helping sponsor some of the coronavirus vaccine trials.

“By November or December, at least in one or more of these trials, we’ll have an answer early on so we can start distributing to those groups who have the highest need,” Fauci said. 

Fauci told the governors not to be concerned by the two vaccines in clinical trials that have been placed on hold in recent weeks pending further investigation. AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine trial is on hold in the US and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was paused Monday because of an illnesses in a volunteer.

“I want to emphasize to the governors that this is not an unusual occurrence. Whenever you have clinical trials in which you’re involving tens of thousands of individuals, it is not unusual to get an adverse event and you want, out of overabundance of caution, you want to make sure that that is a not related to the actual vaccine itself,” Fauci said, calling a hold “standard procedure to do that.”

“Many very good vaccines in the course of their testing have actually been put temporarily on hold,” he assured the governors.

Some more context: Fauci’s comments and participation on the task force governors call come hours after President Trump revived efforts to publicly undermine him, tweeting that Fauci's pitching arm — a reference to his poor first pitch at Nationals Park — is "far more accurate than his prognostications."

Fauci's recommendations and assessments have largely been in line with public health experts throughout the coronavirus pandemic but not aligned with what the President perceives his political interests to be.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also reminded the governors of an upcoming deadline for states to provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a vaccine distribution plan. 

“We want you to be in close touch with your CDC liaison throughout this process as you approach the deadline for submitting a vaccine distribution plan to CDC, this Friday, October 16,” Azar said. 

4:51 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

New Mexico tightens Covid-19 restrictions as cases rise

From CNN’s Andy Rose

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is announcing a partial rollback of the state’s economic reopening, as coronavirus numbers increase rapidly. 

“When the community spread of the virus becomes uncontrollable – and we are fast approaching that point – our only option is to simply shut down those opportunities for the virus,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement Tuesday.

Starting on Friday, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol will have to close by 10:00 p.m local time and mass gatherings will be limited to only five people.

Hotel occupancy is being reduced from 75% of normal capacity to 60%, and only after the business completes a state training program on avoiding virus spread. Hotels that are not certified by that program will only be allowed to serve 25% of their regular capacity.

New Mexico reported 488 new Covid-19 cases on Oct. 9, the state’s largest single-day total.

The governor’s office says the state has not met its benchmark goals for reopening in several weeks. 

“Absent an improvement in those data, the state of New Mexico will once again restrict indoor dining service and significantly roll back maximum occupancy allowances at other retail and dining establishments,” the office said in a statement.

4:54 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

University of Florida is pausing football activities after uptick in Covid-19 positive tests

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

The Florida Gators take the field to face the Texas A&M Aggies on October 10, at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.
The Florida Gators take the field to face the Texas A&M Aggies on October 10, at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Tim Casey/Collegiate Images/Getty Images/FILE

After announcing five new Covid-19 positive tests within the football team earlier on Tuesday, the University of Florida has paused team activities, according to a statement from Athletics Director Scott Stricklin. 

Stricklin said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution.

Stricklin said in his statement that he has had conversations with Southeastern Conference leaders as well as Texas A&M, who Florida played last week, and LSU, who Florida is scheduled to play this Saturday. Stricklin added that head coach Dan Mullen has been in communication with the football players and their families.

At a news conference Monday, Mullen told reporters, “I think if you look at what we've been able to do, the safety precautions we have that our players have followed, our coaches follow, our staff follows, you know, I think we're a model of safety of what we've been doing during this time period. So I'm really proud of how we've handled everything and how safe we've been with everything we're doing and all the precautions we've had in place during this time."

Stricklin said the situation will be re-evaluated by UF Health and the athletic department's sports medicine staff on Wednesday.

4:38 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Utah governor says state is experiencing "one of the worst outbreaks in the country"

From CNN's Jenn Selva

Pool
Pool

Utah is experiencing "one of the worst outbreaks in the country" and has announced a new three-tier Covid-19 monitoring system for counties, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Tuesday. 

Gov. Herbert said during a news conference Utah has seen infection rates and case counts skyrocket over the past month to the highest they've been, with new cases hovering around 1,000 per day since Oct.4.

“We are utilizing 15.8% of our ICU beds to treat COVID-19 patients, more than double what we were before, and our total ICU utilization is at 69.6%,” Gov. Herbert tweeted. “This leaves our hospitals precariously close to being unable to treat COVID and non-COVID patients in need of critical care.” 

Gov. Herbert also tweeted, “The new system is based on the Transmission Index, which calculates the level of COVID-19 transmission in each county by analyzing three data points - percent positivity of tests, cases per 100,000, and hospital capacity.”

Counties will be placed on a low, moderate, or high transmission level which will determine things like when masks are required to be worn, and how large of a group can gather. 

4:25 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

World's top golfer Dustin Johnson tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

 Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the second tee during the third round of the U.S. Open Championship on September 19, at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.
 Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the second tee during the third round of the U.S. Open Championship on September 19, at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/FILE

American golfer Dustin Johnson, who sits atop the World Golf Rankings, has tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement from the PGA Tour. As a result, Johnson has withdrawn from this week’s tournament in Las Vegas.

“Obviously, I am very disappointed,” said Johnson. “I was really looking forward to competing this week, but will do everything I can to return as quickly as possible. I have already had a few calls with the TOUR’s medical team and appreciate all the support and guidance they have given me.”

Johnson won the PGA Tour’s season-long $15 million FedEx Cup title in September after winning the Tour Championship event at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. He last competed at the US Open in September, where he finished in sixth place.

4:01 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Wisconsin governor says they have to get virus under control to prevent overwhelming the health care system

From CNN's Kay Jones

Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services
Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said today that they have to get the virus under control in the state to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. 

Evers said the state reached a "grim milestone" of over 150,000 positive cases over the weekend and that hospitalizations have nearly tripled over the past month. 

The Wisconsin Department of Health says that there is a total of 155,471 confirmed cases of Covid-19, up 3,279 from yesterday. There are 34 new deaths being reported today, for a total of 1508 deaths since the pandemic began.  

During Tuesday's news conference, Evers said they need a huge, united statewide effort, which includes elected officials, to combat the virus. He said that the state legislature hasn't met for 180 days but that they have tried to "thwart every state effort to keep Wisconsinites health and safe."

He said he is inviting Republican leaders in the state to meet and is hopeful they will put their feedback and plans on the table so they can "urgently address the challenges of our state." He is encouraging residents to reach out to their legislators to find out if they support the mask mandate and the public health emergency. 

On Monday, Evers sent a letter to the speaker and the majority leader asking for their thoughts and feedback to the public health emergency. Evers said in today's news conference that he has yet to hear back from them. 

3:48 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

University of Florida football team reports 5 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Florida Gators helmet sit on December 29, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
Florida Gators helmet sit on December 29, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. John Adams/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

The University of Florida has released an updated number of Covid-19 positive tests among its football student-athletes, which indicate that the football team has had five new positive tests over the past week. 

The total number of positive tests the team has seen in the month of October now stands at six

The Florida Gators, who are ranked number 10 in the nation, are scheduled to play the defending national champion Louisiana State University Tigers on Saturday at home in Gainesville, Florida.

3:28 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Virginia governor says about 65 staffers quarantining after he tested positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin

Pool
Pool

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said that “some 65 staff” members had to quarantine after he and his wife tested positive for Covid-19, he said today at a press conference.

“To my knowledge, those 65 staff members all tested negative,” Northam added. “No one tested positive.”

Northam called the result “a testament to wearing these masks.”

Northam added that both he and his wife “have been cleared by health officials to leave isolation and go back to work” since it has been several days since their last symptoms.

4:30 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Eli Lilly pauses trial of its monoclonal antibody to treat Covid-19 for safety reasons

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A researcher tests possible COVID-19 antibodies in a laboratory in Indianapolis in May.
A researcher tests possible COVID-19 antibodies in a laboratory in Indianapolis in May. David Morrison/Eli Lilly/AP

Drugmaker Eli Lilly said Tuesday it was pausing its trial of a combination antibody treatment for coronavirus for safety reasons. 

Usually, clinical trials are paused because a volunteer has suffered a side effect or become ill, but the company did not say what happened.

“Safety is of the upmost importance to Lilly,” a spokesperson told CNN by email.

It said the trial’s Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), an independent group of medical experts who monitor clinical trials, had recommended the pause.

“The trial, evaluating Lilly’s investigational neutralizing antibody as a treatment for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients, is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Lilly is supportive of the decision by the independent DSMB to cautiously ensure the safety of the patients participating in this study,” the company said in the statement.

Lilly is testing a combination of two lab-engineered immune system proteins called monoclonal antibodies to treat severely ill patients with coronavirus. It is similar to the treatment made by Regeneron that was given to President Trump earlier this month.

The news comes after drugmaker Johnson & Johnson announced that it learned of an “unexplained illness” in one of the volunteers which caused it to pause its Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine trial in the US on Sunday, and immediately informed the DSMB, which monitors clinical trial developments.

The drugmaker said it did not know whether the volunteer who became ill had received the vaccine or placebo.

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