October 14 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Angela Dewan, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020
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8:35 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

New reports show coronavirus immunity can last for months

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Three new reports just published show coronavirus immunity can last for months, and maybe even longer.

The findings suggest that many, if not most, people who recover from coronavirus infections are protected for at least a period of time. They also suggest that coronavirus vaccines may be able to protect people for more than just a few weeks.

One study found that people produce antibodies against coronavirus that last for at least five to seven months.

“We have one person that is seven months out. We have a handful of people that are five to seven months out,” Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunobiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told CNN.

“We conclude that neutralizing antibodies are stably produced for at least 5-7 months after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” his team wrote in a report published in the journal Immunity.

They have been working with county officials to test volunteers in Arizona since April 30, ever since they developed a blood test for coronavirus.

Like many researchers, they found antibodies to the coronavirus spiked immediately following infection and then crashed. But a few cells known as B cells stayed around and kept producing antibodies, whose levels built up again over time.

People who were sicker had a stronger immune response, Bhattacharya said. “The people sampled from the ICU had higher levels of antibodies than people who had milder disease.” He doesn’t yet know what that will mean for long-term immunity.

Two other studies also support the idea of long-lasting immunity. Read here for more.

8:21 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

How to safely socialize as Halloween and Thanksgiving approach

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Halloween decorations are seen on a tree in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 10.
Halloween decorations are seen on a tree in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 10. Lan Wei/Xinhua/Getty Images

Small gatherings are fueling the spread of coronavirus, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield. So with Halloween and Thanksgiving coming up, how can people plan for the holidays?

Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and Brown University researcher, said that her kids are still going trick-or-treating, but they are wearing their cloth masks and washing their hands before eating candy. She is doing a Zoom Thanksgiving with her parents.  

“If you're still sitting a foot away from other people without a mask, you can still spread it, especially if you're in that very infectious period. Just because someone is close family does not mean that they’re safe, either,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Olga Khazan, a writer for The Atlantic, spoke with experts who gave advice about holding indoor events.

“One of the researchers that I talked to for this said that part of deciding…where you're going to spend your kind of risk for Covid is how important it is to you. If Thanksgiving is a really important holiday to you, maybe take extra precautions, get tested, quarantine ahead of time, and maybe you can do something small,” she said. 

Researchers told Khazan that if you are planning on holding an indoor event, keep it small and keep an eye on the infection rate in your town.   

“What experts really told me is that if you're going to have an indoor gathering, first of all, you want to keep it small. It's going to be a risk, no matter what,” she said. “But you want to make sure that the number of new cases in your immediate area is between 5 and 10 per 100,000 people. And that the test positivity rate, that's the number of tests that are coming back positive per all the tests that are taken, is less than 5%.���

7:48 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Richard Quest: After recovering from Covid-19, I thought I was safe. Now my antibodies are waning

From CNN's Richard Quest

recovered from Covid-19 back in April. I was fortunate: My symptoms, while nasty, were minor compared to others. I had the hacking dry cough and I was fatigued to the point where I would spend many hours on the sofa. But I never had breathing difficulties, nor required hospital treatment.

Whenever the question of catching it again has come up since, I airily and hubristically said, "Oh, I've had it, and have antibodies to prove it." At least I did until Friday, when my third antibody test came back negative.

I was in shock. Even though it's not clear antibodies do actually offer immunity, I had treated my previous AB positive tests as a shield I could wave, crying, "Been there. Done that. I'm OK." Rightly or wrongly. Now my precious protection had vanished.

Read the full story here.

7:41 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Europe grapples with lockdown decisions

From CNN's Sarah Dean in London

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Countries across Europe that have been badly hit by a second wave are grappling with the same decision: Lockdown completely? Or try to stem the flow of Covid-19 cases with fewer restrictions?

Here's what's going on:

UK: In England, a new three-tier Covid Alert system emphasizing localized restrictions came into force on Wednesday as case numbers continue to surge. But the main opposition Labour party has warned the government has not gone far enough. It called for a two-to-three week “circuit breaker” lockdown in an attempt to reduce the nation’s R rate, or the number of people that those infected pass the virus on to.

In Northern Ireland, there will be a four-week closure of pubs and restaurants from Friday, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries. Schools will also close for two weeks (one week being the usual half-term break) from Monday. Officials stopped short of calling it a full lockdown. 

In numbers: There were 17,234 new cases recorded on Tuesday and 143 deaths in the UK.

 

The Netherlands: Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced Tuesday that all restaurants and bars must close as of 10 p.m. from Wednesday, including outside dining, except for takeout.

“All in all, there are too many people who have not adhered enough to the rules” — Rutte

In numbers: Coronavirus infections rose 60% over the seven-day period ending Monday in the Netherlands, compared with the previous week, according to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

Italy: One of the worst-affected countries in Europe during the first wave of the pandemic, Italy recorded its highest daily increase in coronavirus cases since March 28 on Tuesday.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced further restrictions to curb the virus’ spread, including a ban on private parties, suspension of school trips within public spaces and imposing mandatory face masks indoors, except when at home with family. 

In numbers: Italian health authorities said there had been 5,901 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The number of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care now sits at 514, overtaking Sunday’s tally of 420 – the highest since March 31.

A woman undergoes a swab test for coronavirus at a drive-through testing site at a hospital in Rome, on October 12.
A woman undergoes a swab test for coronavirus at a drive-through testing site at a hospital in Rome, on October 12. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

The Czech Republic: Primary and secondary schools closed overnight. Bars and restaurants can trade -- without seated service or indoor dining -- until 8 p.m. and then via delivery only, Ministry of Health officials told CNN. 

"Three unhappy weeks are awaiting ahead" — Minister of Health Roman Prymula

Prymula admitted that earlier restrictions were not strong enough in the summer and had failed to slow or prevent the second wave.

In numbers: On Tuesday, the country reported 8,325 new cases – its second-highest daily case count since the pandemic began. The Czech Republic has more cases per 100,000 people (521.5) than any other European country, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

France: The situation is also worsening in France. Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron will make a televised address later Wednesday in which, some observers say, new measures could be put in place.

In numbers: Covid-19 patients now take up 44.6% of the Paris region's intensive care unit beds, according to latest figures released by the French government. This is up from 39.7% a week ago when new restrictions, such as the closing of bars, were implemented in the Paris region. 

Germany: There has been a sharp rise in coronavirus infections and Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet the state premiers of the 16 federal states on Wednesday to discuss possible new nationwide measures ahead of the fall holidays. At the center of discussions in the chancellery will be the question of overnight stays for German visitors. 

In numbers: The Robert Koch Institute on Wednesday reported 5,132 new infections, taking the country’s total to 334,585. The number of deaths jumped by 40 to a total of 9,677.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a media statement in Berlin, following a video conference with mayors of German cities on the spread of the coronavirus Germany, on October 9.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a media statement in Berlin, following a video conference with mayors of German cities on the spread of the coronavirus Germany, on October 9. Axel Schmidt/Pool/AP

Poland: The country has recorded its highest number of daily new coronavirus cases and the highest daily death toll from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki entered quarantine after having close contact with an infected person.

In numbers: There were 6,526 new Covid-19 cases and 116 deaths, the government reported Wednesday, the first time the daily death toll has crossed 100.

Additional reporting from Stephanie Halasz, Fred Pleitgen, Artur Osinski, Tomas Etzler, Nicola Ruotolo and Amy Cassidy 

7:10 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Governments are using the pandemic to crack down on digital rights, report finds

From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh

A man wearing a face mask uses a smartphone outside a shopping mall complex in Beijing, on October 11.
A man wearing a face mask uses a smartphone outside a shopping mall complex in Beijing, on October 11. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

In their fight against the coronavirus, some governments are introducing digital surveillance and data collection tools that could pose a lasting threat to citizens' rights, according to a new report by research institute Freedom House.

The Freedom on the Net 2020 report, an assessment of 65 countries released Wednesday, found that the pandemic has accelerated a decline in free speech and privacy on the internet for the tenth consecutive year, and accused some governments of using the virus as a pretext to crack down on critical speech.

"The pandemic is accelerating society's reliance on digital technologies at a time when the internet is becoming less and less free," said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, which is funded by the US government. "Without adequate safeguards for privacy and the rule of law, these technologies can be easily repurposed for political repression."

Amid the pandemic, internet connectivity has become a lifeline to essential information and services -- from education platforms, to health care portals, employment opportunities and social interactions. But state and nonstate actors are also exploiting the crisis to erode freedoms online.

Read the full story:

6:28 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

No national lockdown for England yet, Cabinet minister says

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, leaves the Cabinet Office in London, on March 11.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, leaves the Cabinet Office in London, on March 11. Luke Dray/Getty Images

England is unlikely to have a national lockdown in the next two weeks, Cabinet minister Thérèse Coffey said Wednesday.

Her comments come after UK opposition leader Keir Starmer called Tuesday for a two-to-three week “circuit breaker” lockdown in England in an attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic and reduce the average number of people to whom one infected person will pass on the virus.

Work and Pensions Minister Coffey told Sky News the government believes it needs to give the new three-tier restrictions “a chance to work” first.

The three-tier Covid Alert level system in England, which came into force Wednesday, brings in a number of local lockdown measures and affects areas mainly in the north of England and the Midlands.

Asked directly if England is heading for a national lockdown in the next two weeks, Coffey said: "I don't believe that is the case but as I say this will continue to be a decision the Prime Minister will lead on.”

She conceded that localized measures "may need strengthening," adding that "the government will take action where it is absolutely necessary to save lives and livelihoods."

Meanwhile, opposition Labour MP Rachel Reeves told BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday “we think the government has got it wrong this time.”

The shadow Cabinet minister said “the mantra used to be the government is following the science but that is no longer the case.”

Calling for a national lockdown, Reeves said “if we don’t take that action now it will cost us more in the long run.”
“This was needed three weeks ago and it's absolutely needed now,” she added.
6:49 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Bill Gates says it “blows the mind” that the US is trying to silence top scientists

From CNN Health’s Andrea Kane

Bill Gates has lashed out at the Trump administration for trying to undermine infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and other government scientists. 

“We're engaged in something where we're attacking the government's top scientists, not speaking out about how to save lives, but instead undermining the credibility of the person who's the most knowledgeable,” the Microsoft founder and philanthropist said Tuesday during a Politico Playbook virtual discussion. 

"Expertise matters, and the CDC is largely not allowed to speak out. And so, fortunately, Dr. Fauci has risen above the noise level in talking about masks and best practices. And so the fact that they're trying to undermine him, for some reason ... That just blows the mind,” he said. 

Gates said, “the US still has time to do a far, far better job,” but first has to admit it isn’t doing a perfect job.  

“The access to testing is not uniform in inner city communities versus others, so you know, if you're willing to admit that you haven't been doing a perfect job, you could improve this thing very, very quickly,” Gates said.

“Right now, testing, contact tracing -- we're doing among the worst of any country,” he said, calling the slow turnaround time for test results “just insane.”

6:02 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Cases emerge of rare hearing loss after Covid-19

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard and Elizabeth Cohen

Health authorities around the world have reported the loss of taste and smell as clear symptoms of a Covid-19 infection. Now researchers are investigating after new cases of hearing loss with Covid-19 infections emerged.

Among them is a 45-year-old man in Britain. The case study, published in the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Case Reports on Tuesday, describes how the man, who also has asthma, saw an otolaryngology specialist following a week of hearing loss while he was being treated in hospital for Covid-19.

The patient was treated with steroids for his hearing loss and he completed a seven-day course, which resulted in just partial improvement in his hearing, according to the journal.

"This is the first reported case of sensorineural hearing loss following COVID-19 infection in the UK," the researchers wrote. "Given the widespread presence of the virus in the population and the significant morbidity of hearing loss, it is important to investigate this further."

The researchers -- from the University College London and Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital --  noted that there have been a few other reported cases of hearing loss following Covid-19 infection.

Read more here.

4:31 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Small household gatherings are helping drive the surge of Covid-19 cases, CDC chief says

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Small gatherings are becoming a growing source of Covid-19 spread, a leading health expert said, as at least 36 states are now reporting increased cases of the virus and hospitalizations are on the rise nationwide.

"In the public square, we're seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions," US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said during a call with the nation's governors on Tuesday. Audio of the call was obtained by CNN.

"But what we're seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings," Redfield said. "Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it's really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting."

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx echoed Redfield's warning last week, urging Americans not to let their guard down during the holidays by gathering with close friends and family who they think may be virus-free.

That's especially important to keep in mind as college students begin returning home. Experts have warned that young students, who often show mild or no symptoms at all, can contribute to a household spread of the virus, by infecting their parents who may then go on to infect other parts of their home and community.

The warnings come as the US sees early signs of what experts say will be another Covid-19 surge, one that could overwhelm the healthcare system and kill thousands more Americans in the coming months.

Read the full story: