October 16 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Nick Thompson, CNN

Updated 12:26 AM ET, Sat October 17, 2020
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7:37 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Federal government wants to deliver vaccine shots within a day or two of FDA approval, officials say

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A health worker wearing a protective mask works in a lab during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on Wednesday, September 9.
A health worker wearing a protective mask works in a lab during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on Wednesday, September 9. Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The federal government hopes to start vaccinating people against coronavirus within a day or two of Food and Drug Administration emergency authorization, officials said Friday.

“We fully anticipate that both Pfizer and Moderna will have data of both safety and effectiveness of their vaccines very shortly. We are very encouraged because their clinical trials are going extraordinarily well,” Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Health and Human Services Department, told reporters in a telephone briefing.

Mango was announcing a plan for retail pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens to distribute any eventual coronavirus vaccine to long-term care facilities such as nursing homes under an agreement – not a contract – with the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed.

“Part of the reason we are doing this is within 24 to 48 hours of the time the emergency use authorization is authorized, we expect to be putting needles into people’s arms,” Mango said. “This is pre-staging for what we believe will be rapid deployment.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Jay Butler noted that a third of coronavirus deaths in the US have been among residents of long-term care facilities. “We believe that this plan will be the quickest and easiest way to provide vaccines to long-term care facility residents,” Butler told reporters.

The CDC asked states to submit plans for vaccine distribution Friday. Workers and residents of long-term care facilities are expected to be among the first to get vaccinated.

 

7:21 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

SEC announces changes to football schedule because of Covid-19 positive tests

From CNN's Jill Martin

The SEC logo on Dudley Field prior to a game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and LSU Tigers, October 3, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.
The SEC logo on Dudley Field prior to a game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and LSU Tigers, October 3, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Southeastern Conference on Friday announced changes to the football schedule following the postponement of two games originally scheduled for Saturday because of positive Covid-19 tests and quarantining. 

On Monday, it was announced that because of positive tests and quarantine in the Vanderbilt football program, the Vanderbilt at Missouri game of Oct. 17 is rescheduled for Dec. 12. On Wednesday, it was announced that because of positive tests and quarantine in the Florida football program, the LSU at Florida game of Oct. 17 is rescheduled for Dec. 12.  

Because of extended pause of team activities for the Florida football program at the advice of health officials, the Missouri at Florida game originally scheduled for Oct. 24 is rescheduled for Oct. 31. 

The Kentucky at Missouri game, originally scheduled for Oct. 31, is rescheduled for Oct. 24.

The Georgia at Kentucky game that had been scheduled for Oct. 24 is rescheduled for Oct. 31.

7:09 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

As Covid-19 hospitalizations rise, NIH director warns more deaths may follow

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

As the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations tick up in the United States, an increase in the number of deaths will likely follow, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, warned Friday.

The US has passed the 8 million mark in total coronavirus cases, with more than 63,000 new infections on Thursday. More than 218,000 people have died.

“I also look at not just the number of cases, but hospitalizations — because that indicates people are really severely sick and they need to be in the hospital. And that curve has also started up again, which is troubling,” Collins told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“And that probably means, unfortunately, that we may start now to see also an increase in the number of deaths each day — which is the thing we most want to prevent.” 

Collins urged Americans to ask themselves what they can do to help limit the spread of Covid-19. 

“This is a good moment for people to stop and ask themselves, what can I do to try to be sure that we limit the further infections that otherwise seem to be looming in front of us as cold weather is kicking in and people are indoors, and those curves are going upward, in the wrong direction,” Collins said. 

“There’s many reasons to be sorrowful about where we are,” he said. “This is the most significant global pandemic in more than 100 years, but the way in which it has taken a toll on so many individuals and families in the US is truly heartbreaking.”

“It’s truly tragic and we should be doing everything we can.”

Watch the interview here:

6:48 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Atlanta Public Schools postpone return to in-person learning until next year

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

APS Executive Administrator Pierre Gaither (left) and new APS superintendent Lisa Herring talk before the Swearing-In Ceremony at Atlanta Public Schools Headquarters in Atlanta on Tuesday, June 30.
APS Executive Administrator Pierre Gaither (left) and new APS superintendent Lisa Herring talk before the Swearing-In Ceremony at Atlanta Public Schools Headquarters in Atlanta on Tuesday, June 30. Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) will postpone all reopening plans for in-person learning and continue with their current virtual model until at least January 2021, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring announced today.

The decision by APS comes after continued monitoring and tracking of Covid-19 health data that is trending unfavorably, consultation with public health officials and health care experts, and data secured to determine both feasibility and stakeholder feedback, Herring said in a release.

Covid-19 data published by the Georgia Department of Public Health shows recent increases in new Covid-19 cases in the community, resulting in a current average that exceeds 130 new cases per 100,000 county residents, according to the release.

“That number leaves us in substantial spread of COVID-19 and unable to reopen to in-person instruction,” Herring said.

“The decision to further delay the in-person opening of our schools was difficult. But after consulting with our teachers, staff, students, families, and public health officials, I decided this is the right approach at this time,” Herring added.

6:00 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Hispanics and Blacks died from Covid-19 at disproportionately high rates over the summer

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Hispanics and Black Americans are dying at a disproportionate rate due to Covid-19, a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

The study published Friday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report looked at the shifting demographics of deaths from the pandemic over the summer.

Between May and August, 114,411 Americans lost their lives to Covid-19. Elderly White men were among the largest number of deaths. 

But Black people accounted for nearly 18% of the deaths in this time period, despite making up just 12.5% of the US population. Hispanics accounted for more than 24% of deaths, but make up 18.5% of the population.

The demographics started to shift in the summer. The percentage of Hispanics who died increased from 16% to more than 26% of overall deaths between May and August, while the proportion of those who died who were White or Black decreased.

The CDC said that there was a geographic shift in deaths. The highest concentration of deaths early in the pandemic were in the Northeast, but the numbers shifted West and Southward. The geographic difference, though, can’t account for the increase in the percentage of deaths among the Hispanic community, the CDC said.

Researchers think the pandemic has been harder on the Hispanic community because they may have had a higher exposure to Covid-19 due to their work. Hispanics also are more likely to live in multifamily households or live with many generations in one family, making it hard to social distance.

Nearly a quarter of all the deaths in the pandemic have been in places where people live in group settings at a nursing home or long-term care facilities. Many of those deaths happened early on in the pandemic. But as nursing homes stopped allowing outside visitors and were more aggressively testing residents and isolating those who were sick, those deaths have slowed down and there has been a shift toward younger and noninstitutionalized populations over the course of the pandemic.

To limit the spread of the disease, the CDC continues to recommend people use face coverings, wash their hands frequently, keep physical distance from others and avoid large gatherings.

 

6:34 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

CVS and Walgreens will help distribute coronavirus vaccines

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Cars line up for a drive-thru coronavirus test at CVS Pharmacy on May 15, in Carver, Massachusetts. 
Cars line up for a drive-thru coronavirus test at CVS Pharmacy on May 15, in Carver, Massachusetts.  Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The federal government has designated CVS and Walgreens to distribute any coronavirus vaccine that eventually gets authorized to long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, Operation Warp Speed officials said Friday.

The two drug chains are best placed to send out mobile units to vaccinate seniors and other vulnerable people on site, Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Health and Human Services Department, told reporters in a telephone briefing.

“This is a completely voluntary program on the part of every nursing home. This is an opt in program,” Mango said.

It will be up to the drug chains to figure out how to deliver the vaccines, including cold storage requirements and personal protective equipment. It will also be up to the retailers to collect from Medicare, Medicaid or private insurers for administering the vaccines, which must be provided to people free of charge, officials said.

Mango said the Operation Warp Speed team did not have any idea of how many nursing homes would choose to use the retailers.

Earlier Friday, President Trump said seniors would be the first to get any vaccine. “Seniors will be the first in line for the vaccine. And we will soon be ending this pandemic,” Trump said on a visit to Fort Myers.

6:06 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Fauci will be among the first to see Covid-19 vaccine data

From CNN's Maggie Fox 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, will be among the first people to see the data that will tell the country whether one of the experimental coronavirus vaccines being tested actually works to protect against the virus, the National Institutes of Health confirmed Friday.

Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, which is sponsoring some of the vaccine trials. Those include the vaccines being developed by Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Four of six vaccines are in advanced, Phase 3 clinical trials and independent advisers known as data and safety monitoring boards or DSMBs are watching the results to see how many volunteers become infected with coronavirus after receiving either the vaccine or a dummy shot. These DSMBs make the decision about whether to stop the trials and share the data with the trial sponsors.

That would be both the company developing the vaccine and, in the case of those sponsored by NIAID, the US government.

“Dr. Fauci as director of NIAID is the designated senior representative of the United States government,” an NIH spokesperson told CNN. “Dr. Fauci does not participate in the DSMB process of developing recommendations regarding a clinical trial. Once the DSMB makes a decision, the DSMB provides the recommendation to not only the study sponsor but also to the US government.”

Fauci’s role was first reported by ProPublica.

One vaccine being developed without the involvement of the federal government is Pfizer’s.

4:59 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

US surgeon general says Wisconsin's positivity rates are going in the wrong direction 

From CNN’s Raja Razek

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams announces a COVID-19 testing facility in Neenah, Wisconsin on October 16.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams announces a COVID-19 testing facility in Neenah, Wisconsin on October 16. WLUK

United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned that Wisconsin is a Covid-19 red state, with a rising positivity rate.

"I want you all to be aware that Wisconsin is currently one of our red states. Meaning, your positivity rates are over 10% and going in the wrong direction. Cases are in the red, going in the wrong direction," Adams said.

"It is critical that we actually understand where this virus is circulating so that we could get cases under control and reverse positivity,” he said.

Adams spoke at a news conference announcing a new Covid-19 surge testing location in Neenah, Wisconsin. 

State GOP Sen. Roger Roth, who also spoke at the news conference, said the center will give the people of Northeast Wisconsin greater access to testing for Covid-19.

"We know more testing helps us bend the curve," Roth added. 

3:40 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Two-month follow-up period for Covid-19 vaccine candidates should not be curtailed, FDA officials say

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The US Food and Drug Administration’s two month follow-up requirement for Covid-19 vaccine candidates is necessary to keep people safe and encourage confidence in a vaccine given emergency use authorization, two senior FDA officials said Friday.

“Curtailment of this minimum follow-up could destroy the scientific credibility of the decision to authorize any vaccine for use under an EUA in the United States,” Dr. Marion Gruber, director of the office of vaccines research and review in the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, the division that approves vaccines, and Dr. Philip Krause, the deputy director, wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine Friday.

The two-month period will allow for identification and evaluation of adverse reactions to a vaccine, which often emerge about six weeks after a vaccine dose is issued. The follow up period will also allow researchers to begin to understand how long immunity from a vaccine will last.

While the follow-up period is shorter than those included in most vaccine clinical trials, Gruber and Krause say that the “gravity of the current public health emergency and the importance of making a vaccine available as soon as possible,” warrant the decision.

Gruber and Krause noted that evaluation of a Covid-19 vaccine should continue even after emergency use authorization (EUA) is issued, so the trials can yield the data required for full FDA approval. This would mean trial participants who received a placebo, would not be immediately issued the vaccine upon its approval for emergency use.

People who get any vaccine released under an EUA will be told it is not fully approved, Gruber and Krause said. “Use of an investigational vaccine under an EUA would not be subject to the usual informed consent requirements for clinical investigations; nevertheless, vaccine recipients will be provided a fact sheet that describes the investigational nature of the product, the known and potential benefits and risks, available alternatives, and the option to refuse vaccination,” they wrote.

“At stake is public confidence in America’s response to the pandemic, in Covid-19 vaccines, and in vaccines in general, all of which are essential to achieving desired public health outcomes,” they added.