October 15 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Angela Dewan, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020
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4:15 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Germany just recorded a daily high number of new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin and Martin Goillandeau in London 

A health official manipulates a swab sample at a Covid-19 testing station in Stuttgart, Germany, on October 13.
A health official manipulates a swab sample at a Covid-19 testing station in Stuttgart, Germany, on October 13. Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images

German authorities identified a single-day high of 6,638 new coronavirus cases, according to data published Thursday by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's disease control and prevention agency.

To date, more than 341,000 Covid-19 infections have been identified in Germany since the pandemic began, killing at least 9,710 people. Another 33 Covid-19 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, according to the RKI.

A spike in Europe: Thursday marked the highest number of cases identified in a day in Germany since March 28. It is just one of many countries in Europe fighting to contain new outbreaks of Covid-19.

Thousands of cases are being identified in France, where authorities in several cities have begun enacting curfews in an attempt to limit the virus' spread. Numbers are also soaring in the United Kingdom and Italy.

4:07 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Chinese officials tested nearly 10 million people for Covid-19 in four days

From CNN's Beijing bureau

Residents line up to be tested for Covid-19, as part of a mass testing program following a new coronavirus outbreak in Qingdao, in China's eastern Shandong province, on October 12.
Residents line up to be tested for Covid-19, as part of a mass testing program following a new coronavirus outbreak in Qingdao, in China's eastern Shandong province, on October 12. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese health officials in the eastern city of Qingdao carried out 9,947,304 Covid-19 tests in four days as part of a citywide effort to stop a cluster of 12 coronavirus cases from growing into a major breakout.

Qingdao's Municipal Health Commission said Thursday that 7,646,353 test results have been returned, among which no new positive cases have been identified.

The mass testing program was rolled out by authorities after three asymptomatic patients with links to a hospital treating imported cases were identified over the weekend.

Cases throughout China: China's National Health Commission said 11 new cases were reported on Wednesday throughout the country. Ten of those were imported, and one was an asymptomatic case that started presenting symptoms.

Chinese authorities count asymptomatic cases separately from symptomatic ones.

4:14 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Analysis: What the reaction to China's President coughing during a speech says about East Asia right now

Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths in Hong Kong

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, on October 14.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, on October 14. Ju Peng/Xinhua/Getty Images

During a speech in Shenzhen on Wednesday to promote the continued development of China's first special economic zone, Chinese President Xi Jinping coughed -- a lot.

While any speculation about Xi's health was, unsurprisingly, not evident on Chinese social media or in tightly controlled state publications, critics of Beijing quickly seized the opportunity.

In a story headlined "Xi Jinping coughs and coughs at Shenzhen event," Apple Daily -- a vehemently anti-Chinese Communist Party, pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong -- reported that in the second-half of Xi's 50-minute speech "he frequently paused to drink water and coughed repeatedly."

"Whenever Xi stopped, the live feed from state broadcaster CCTV would turn the camera to guests sitting beyond the main table, but it could still capture the sounds of Xi's coughing and drinking," the newspaper said.

Epoch Times, a media outlet linked to the Falun Gong religious group, which has long been suppressed in China and is one of Beijing's biggest critics overseas, took the speculation a step further, with a video titled "Xi Jinping in Shenzhen: is he infected?" Some Taiwanese outlets also noted the President's "violent cough."

There are, of course, plenty of reasons for Xi to cough that do not indicate illness: his throat may have been dry; he spoke for almost an hour, and China loves to over air-condition public buildings like the one he was speaking in. It's also important to note that China has reported less than 100 coronavirus cases nationwide in the past week, making the chances of Xi being infected by the pandemic which has brought the world to a standstill exceptionally unlikely.

Read the full analysis:

3:58 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

India records a dip in new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

A health worker collects a swab sample from a boy to test for Covid-19 at a community gym center on the outskirts of Hyderabad, India, on October 8.
A health worker collects a swab sample from a boy to test for Covid-19 at a community gym center on the outskirts of Hyderabad, India, on October 8. Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

India's Health Ministry reported 67,708 new cases of Covid-19 Thursday, the fewest number of infections identified in a day since August.

Thursday was the fourth day in a row that the world's second-most populous country recorded fewer than 70,000 new coronavirus cases.

Few countries have been hit as hard by the global pandemic as India. The country has identified more than 7.3 million cases -- 812,390 of which are considered active -- and more than 111,000 virus-related deaths, authorities said. Only the United States has recorded more cases, and only the US and Brazil have identified more fatalities.

Authorities said 680 deaths were recorded across the country in the past 24 hours.

Because of the lower numbers, schools and movie theaters in some parts of the country are expected to reopen in the coming days, albeit with strict social distancing measures in place.

3:52 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

US reports nearly 60,000 new Covid-19 cases

A man gets swabbed by a health worker at the state run free Covid-19 testing site in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 13.
A man gets swabbed by a health worker at the state run free Covid-19 testing site in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 13. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty Images

At least 59,494 new coronavirus cases and 985 new virus-related deaths were recorded in the United States on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The nationwide totals now stand at 7,916,100 cases, including at least 216,872 deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

Track cases here:

1:47 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Lockdown or a drip feed of Covid restrictions? One path is better for the economy

From CNN's Zamira Rahim, Pierre Bairin and Gaëlle Fournier

Governments across Europe are choosing between two vastly different strategies as a second wave of Covid-19 arrives in force.

Most are imposing limited local restrictions and keeping their economies open. But in the UK and Ireland, scientific advisers have pushed for second national lockdowns, despite fears of an economic shock.

The crisis, which hit Europe for the first time in early spring, is back -- but this time around, many people feel that locking down society is too high a price to pay.

Yet most medical and economic experts CNN spoke to agree that, in the long run, a short lockdown is better than a constant battle to contain the pandemic.

Read the full story:

1:13 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

South Korean city to test all employees and patients at hospital linked to new Covid-19 cluster

From CNN's Gawon Bae and Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

All employees and patients at a nursing hospital in the South Korean city of Busan will be tested for Covid-19 after an outbreak was reported at the facility, the city’s Acting Mayor Byeon Sung-wan said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

The hospital in the southern port city reported 53 Covid-19 cases linked to its facility Wednesday, 11 of whom are employees and the rest patients, Byeon said.

Gatherings at restaurants near the hospital will also be barred for the next two weeks.

New cases: Another 110 Covid-19 infections have been identified nationwide, 95 of which were locally transmitted, according to South Korean authorities on Thursday.

Nearly 25,000 cases have been confirmed in South Korea since the pandemic began. At least 439 fatalities have now been reported, as one new death was added from the previous day, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

12:32 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Opinion: White House's new Covid-19 strategy is madness

Opinion from Jeffrey Sachs

Editor's note: Jeffrey D. Sachs is a professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. The opinions expressed here are his own.

As if Donald Trump's irresponsibility was not already a national tragedy, the White House seems now to favor a controversial approach to Covid-19 that threatens to bring nothing less than mass suffering.

On Tuesday, senior administration officials said that they were receptive to pursuing "herd immunity," an approach touted by a group of scientists who have put out what they call the "Great Barrington Declaration."

What they're proposing: The idea is that the federal government should let the pandemic run its course until most of the population is infected and has ostensibly developed antibodies to ward off future infections. Typical estimates hold that 70% or more of the population would thereby become infected.

According to this idea, vulnerable groups would be targeted for "focused protection," for example, introducing extra precautions such as frequent Covid-19 testing to avoid infections of the elderly living in nursing homes. The rest of the population "should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal," according to the declaration.

What experts say: This approach runs strongly against the overwhelming consensus of public health specialists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The new Covid-19 approach would undoubtedly add massively to the suffering in the US in a very short period of time.

The fallacy: The idea that we should not try to control infections other than of vulnerable groups is based on a complete misunderstanding of the real choices facing the US -- or facing any country for that matter.

The core mistake is the belief that the only alternative to an economic shutdown is to let the virus spread widely in the population. Instead, a set of basic public health measures is enough, as many other countries have shown, to control the spread of the virus. 

Read the full op-ed:

12:02 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Missouri reports daily high number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN's Raja Razek

Missouri reported 1,413 hospitalizations due to Covid-19 on Tuesday -- the highest daily count since the pandemic began, as the US grapples with a new surge of the virus.

The state's seven-day average for hospitalization is now over 1,356, according to the state's health department Covid-19 dashboard.

Missouri's hospitalization numbers include both suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Missouri has recorded a total of 148,679 Covid-19 cases, with 2,420 coronavirus related deaths in the state. 

Nationwide surge: Across the country, more than 30 states have reported more Covid-19 cases this past week than they reported the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

"We went down to the lowest point lately in early September, around 30,000-35,000 new cases a day. Now we're back up to (about) 50,000 new cases a day. And it's going to continue to rise," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said Tuesday.

"This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about. And now it's happening. And it's happening especially in the northern Midwest, and the Northern states are getting hit very hard -- Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas. But it's going to be nationally soon enough."