October 19 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020
26 Posts
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8:14 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

“The next 6 to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic,” expert says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” on Sunday that "the next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.”

Vaccines won’t be available “in any meaningful way” until the third quarter of next year, he said – and even when they are, half the US population is skeptical of even taking one.

 “So, what we have right now is a major problem in messaging,” he said. “People don’t know what to believe, and that’s one of our huge challenges going forward, is we’ve got to get the message to the public that reflects the science and reflects reality.”

Osterholm added that he doesn’t know if there is a lead when it comes to the federal government’s public health response. There are a lot of different voices, which is part of the problem.

 “We don’t have a consolidated one voice,” he said.

Osterholm highlighted the 70,000 cases of Covid-19 reported on Friday, which matched the largest number seen during the peak of the pandemic, and said that between now and the holidays, the US will see numbers “much, much larger than even the 67 to 75,000 cases,” he said.

8:21 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Switzerland imposes restrictions as infections rise

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga, right, looks on as Swiss Interior and Health Minister Alain Berset speaks during a press conference announcing new measures against the coronavirus in Bern on Sunday.
Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga, right, looks on as Swiss Interior and Health Minister Alain Berset speaks during a press conference announcing new measures against the coronavirus in Bern on Sunday. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Switzerland introduced new restrictions on Monday after registering 8,737 new Covid-19 cases and 14 deaths over the weekend, according to data from the Swiss public health agency. 

From Monday large public gatherings are banned, and a nationwide mask mandate is in effect. 

Switzerland has registered 83,159 Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and the daily number is growing at a rapid pace.

The country's current death toll now stands at 1,837.

11:34 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

A week after vaccine trial was paused, Johnson & Johnson and FDA won’t reveal critical details

From CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen

Despite repeated claims that they’re committed to transparency, Johnson & Johnson and the US Food and Drug Administration still aren’t revealing critical details one week after the pharmaceutical giant announced its Covid-19 vaccine trial was on pause. 

The company and the FDA declined to answer two questions from CNN:

1) Whether the participant who became ill was in the group that received the vaccine or the placebo

2) Whether this was the first pause for the trial. 

The answers to both questions are crucial to understanding what the participant’s illness might mean for the safety of a vaccine.  

FDA spokespeople said federal regulations prohibit the agency from disclosing information about the trial. 

A Johnson & Johnson spokesman pointed CNN to the company’s October 12 statement, which did not say if it was the first pause, and did not say if the company knew whether the ill participant received the vaccine or a placebo. 

Public health experts have urged companies to be transparent about their vaccine clinical trials, considering that hundreds of millions of Americans will eventually be asked to roll up their sleeves and take a Covid-19 vaccine.  

Here are more details:

7:55 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Wales to enter two-week "fire break" lockdown as cases surge

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Londo

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference on October 19, in Cardiff.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference on October 19, in Cardiff. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Wales is to enter a two-week "fire break" lockdown that will require everyone to stay at home to fight the spread of Covid-19, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced Monday. 

The lockdown will begin at 6 p.m. local time on Friday and will require all non-essential businesses such as retail stores, restaurants and bars to shut down until November 9.

This is the shortest we can make it, but that means it needs to be sharp and deep to have the impact against the virus we need it to have," said Drakeford.

The only exceptions to the stay-at-home rule will be critical workers and those in jobs that make it impossible to work from home.

“A firebreak period is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer and much more damaging national lockdown,” said Drakeford as he announced the so-called "circuit breaker" restrictions. “This is the moment to come together, to play our part in a common endeavour.”

Libraries, gyms and places of worship will also be closed during the lockdown, which will take place during a break period for schoolchildren.

Wales last week banned travelers from coronavirus hotspots in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from entering.

8:39 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Miami Beach Mayor accuses Florida Governor of using herd immunity to combat Covid-19

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber speaks in the video.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber speaks in the video. Mayor Dan Gelber/Facebook

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber released a video this weekend accusing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of adopting the controversial practice of herd immunity as a strategy against the coronavirus.

It has become very clear that the state of Florida is pursuing herd immunity as its policy for combatting Covid-19,” Gelber said in the video. 

Gelber claimed that one day after DeSantis held a roundtable discussion with Dr. Martin Kulldorff and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya -- two of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which according to Gelber advocates for herd immunity -- DeSantis decided to fully reopen his state. 

“I hope the governor reconsiders this approach,” Gelber said in the video.

CNN reached out to Gov. DeSantis’ press office and his communications director did not wish to comment.

7:33 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Netflix has had a great 2020 thanks to the pandemic. But next year could be rough

From CNN's Frank Pallotta

Hollywood has had a disastrous 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic leaving the entertainment industry reeling. But Hollywood's loss is Netflix's gain. 

Netflix thrived in 2020 as people were stuck at home during the global health crisis. The company posted colossal subscriber gains over the past two quarters, which helped drive its stock up nearly 70% this year.

Now, investors are eager to learn whether Netflix can take that momentum into next year.

The company will report its third-quarter earnings after the bell on Tuesday. Wall Street will keep its eye on subscriber growth (as is always the case with Netflix). Still, a lot of attention will focus on what the company has to say about next quarter, and next year, according to Bernie McTernan, a senior analyst at Rosenblatt Securities.

Netflix's subscriber forecast of 2.5 million in the third quarter is a "conservative number" that the company should exceed, McTernan believes. However, it could be an indicator that next year may be much leaner than 2020.

"We think that in 2021, subscriber growth is going to be slowing substantially," he told CNN Business. "We think that the outlook for '21 will be more challenging for Netflix."

He said the company could raise prices, which could lead some to cancel. It may also face increased competition. Disney+, the company's nascent streaming service, has brought in more than 60 million subscribers in less than a year. 

Read the full story here:

7:22 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Lawmaker hospitalized with Covid-19 as Greater Manchester remains in stand-off with government

From CNN's Duarte Mendonca in Manchester and Lindsay Isaac in London

British MP Yasmin Qureshi is pictured in London in November 2017.
British MP Yasmin Qureshi is pictured in London in November 2017. Dominic Lipinski/PA Images/Getty Images

A member of parliament for Bolton, in England's Greater Manchester region, has been hospitalized after testing positive with Covid-19.

In a social media statement on Monday, Yasmin Qureshi said she was started feeling ill two weeks ago and was subsequently diagnosed with the virus. After taking a turn for the worse on Saturday, she was admitted to hospital with pneumonia. 

Qureshi thanked workers from the UK's National Health Service in the statement, saying: 

“I'm being very well looked after and have nothing but praise and admiration for the wonderful staff at the hospital. They have been amazing throughout the process and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone working here in such difficult circumstances.”

The news comes as local leaders in Greater Manchester remain in a stand-off with the UK government about imposing further restrictions unless national money is allocated for local economies. 

6:52 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

A chef who can't smell (or taste) explains how to experience food

From CNN's Katja Brokke

How would things taste if you lost your sense of smell? It's a question that has become surprisingly common this year.

Anosmia -- or "smell blindness" -- is a condition which is thought to affect around 5% of the population. But with loss of smell and/or taste two of the recognized symptoms of Covid-19, this previously little-known condition has come under the global spotlight.

Not only have people been unable to smell or taste while sick with the virus, many people report long-term loss of these senses while recovering. 

Dutch cookbook writer Joke (pronounced Yok-e) Boon suffers from anosmia. She lost her sense of smell at the age of four -- probably a combination of a severe cold and having her tonsils removed. 

Despite this, she has written five cookbooks. So how does someone without a sense of smell experience food? For Boon, it's mainly with her brain -- by employing a facial nerve.

Starting from the ear and branching out in three strands towards your eyes, nose and jaw, the trigeminal nerve is responsible for sensory perception in the face. It's meant to protect us from danger -- stimulated by, for example, smoke and ammonia. But certain food ingredients can also set it off. 

"You know the feeling when you eat too much wasabi at once?" says Boon. "I use this nerve a lot to 'taste' my food, I play with it. I can also feel ginger, mint, mustard and pepper this way. Pepper and ginger are warm and tingling, whereas mint and horseradish create a cold sensation." 

She says the color, texture and even sound of food have big roles, too.

Read the full story here:

6:32 a.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Russia reports record daily case increase

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

An ambulance at a medical center for suspected Covid-19 patients in Moscow on October 18.
An ambulance at a medical center for suspected Covid-19 patients in Moscow on October 18. Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS/Getty Images

Russia reported a record increase of 15,982 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, according to its coronavirus response center.

The country's total number of reported infections now stands at 1,415,316

Russia has seen a surge in cases since the beginning of October, setting a new record for single-day increases almost every day. Officials previously said the growing numbers could require additional action, but added they believe they can avoid a full lockdown of the kind that was imposed in the spring when the country was reporting on average around 10,000-11,000 cases each day. 

Moscow is Russia's most affected city with over 5,000 cases. On Monday, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin reiterated in a blog post that city officials do not view another lockdown as a viable option.

“Extreme measures like curfew, a total ban on movements in the city, ban on entry and exit, closing down almost all businesses -- to us, these measures are absolutely unacceptable and impossible,” Sobyanin said.

Sobyanin added that the city authorities were trying to strike “a middle ground” between a lockdown and no restrictions at all. So far they have issued orders to limit movements for some groups of people, including residents over 65 years old or those with chronic diseases; asked employers to move a third of their staff to work from home; and imposed distance learning for middle and high schoolers.