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October 19 coronavirus news

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Long-term heart damage likely in some Covid-19 survivors, review finds

Long-term heart damage is likely in some survivors of Covid-19, a team of doctors reported Monday.

The doctors found that Covid-19 dysregulates the way the blood clots, and damages the lungs and their ability to process fresh oxygen into the blood, they wrote in a review for the American College of Cardiology.

Patients who have had to undergo ventilation – and the medicated sedation that goes along with that — are most in danger, wrote Dr. Sean Pinney of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and his colleagues.

The doctors noted that about a third of survivors of the closely-related severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus in 2003-2004 had persistently abnormal lung function a year after illness, with lower exercise capacity – and Covid-19 appears to damage the heart even more.

A second study noted a kind of damage to the heart known as myocardial injury in about a quarter of coronavirus patients.

A third study in the same journal noted that patients with excess body fat, uncontrolled blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol face much higher risks of complications from coronavirus. Many Americans have all four problems.

Lebanese security chief who met with top US officials tests positive for coronavirus

The head of Lebanon's General Security apparatus, Abbas Ibrahim, speaks during an interview at his office in the capital Beirut on July 22.

The head of Lebanon’s powerful General Security Directorate, who spent the past several days meeting with senior US national security officials, has tested positive for Covid-19 in Washington, his office announced Monday.

Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim took a coronavirus test in Washington, the post on Facebook said, which came back positive. Ibrahim was due to have meetings in Paris after Washington, which have been canceled.

Ibrahim has been part of the ongoing talks between the White House and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad over US citizens who are believed to be in regime custody. During his visit to Washington, Ibrahim met with National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, who has previously tested positive for Covid-19.

Ibrahim’s diagnosis comes amid news that two senior Trump administration officials met with Syrian regime officials in Damascus this fall in an effort to secure the release of American prisoners believed to be held by the Syrian dictator, two administration officials confirmed to CNN.

Ibrahim spoke with the UAE’s The National news service during his trip, which reported he was also due to meet with the CIA Director Gina Haspel and State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale.

The CIA would not comment on whether Haspel met with Ibrahim but spokesman Tim Barrett told CNN: “Director Haspel continues to test negative and follow CDC guidelines.”

Ibrahim also met with State Department officials, sources told CNN. The State Department has not replied to CNN’s inquiries. 

The Italian region of Lombardy will impose a curfew to stop the latest wave of Covid-19

Lombardy, Italy’s hardest-hit region during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year, will enact a curfew in order to curb a new rise in cases.

Under the curfew – which begins Thursday – nearly all activities and travel in public must cease from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Regional authorities also agreed to close shopping centers on weekends, except for stores selling food and basic necessities, to prevent more opportunities for the virus to spread.

Lombardy is home to the city of Milan and a population of more than 10 million. The novel coronavirus took a staggering toll on the region in its earliest days, leading many to call it the pandemic’s epicenter in Europe. The elderly population was particularly hard-hit.

Details of exact exemptions, how long the curfew will last and how it will be enforced will be announced in an upcoming regional decree. Under the latest government decree, local administrations have the power to enact lockdowns and curfews for their area. 

Iran tallied more Covid-19 deaths on Monday than any other day since the pandemic began

A woman prays at the grave of her mother, who died from Covid-19, at a cemetery in Babol, Iran in this April 30 file photo.

Iran reported 337 new Covid-19 related deaths on Monday, the country’s Ministry of Health said. It was the highest number of fatalities the nation has seen in a single day since the pandemic began.

At least 30,712 people have now been killed in the country by the novel coronavirus, according to the ministry.

Authorities said 4,251 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Monday, bringing the national total to 534,631.

Travel restrictions to and from Tehran, the capital, have been imposed in order to stymie this latest wave of cases.

New York bars wedding of a Brooklyn rabbi's grandson expected to draw 10,000 people

A wedding at a Hasidic Jewish synagogue that was expected to draw up to 10,000 people has been barred by a New York state order, according to officials.

A grandson of the grand rebbe (rabbi) of Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar in Brooklyn planned to get married Monday, according to a statement attributed to the synagogue which CNN received from the Satmar Wedding Committee.

After an investigation into the planned wedding, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Friday signed a section 16 order barring the event, Beth Garvey, special counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, confirmed at a press conference on Saturday.

“It was outside the target red, or orange or yellow cluster zone, but the information that our investigation revealed was that upwards of 10,000 individuals … planned to attend,” Garvey said.

Read more:

Yetev Lev D'Satmar FILE

New York bars wedding of a Brooklyn rabbi's grandson expected to draw 10,000

Argentina tops 1 million Covid-19 cases

A healthcare worker conducts a nasal swab test for COVID-19 from inside a freestanding coronavirus testing isolation booth at a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, October 19.

Argentina has topped 1 million total known cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, according to the country’s health ministry.

Argentina is the fifth country to report more than 1 million known coronavirus cases, following the US, India, Brazil and Russia, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The health ministry reported 12,982 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing Argentina’s total number of known cases to 1,002,662.

The country also reported 451 new fatalities from the virus, bringing the country’s known coronavirus death toll to 26,716.

More than 220,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US

There are at least 8,206,525 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 220,079 people have died from the virus, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

So far on Monday, Johns Hopkins has recorded 51,931 new cases and 405 reported deaths.

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

Trump's attacks on Fauci won't help the country fight Covid-19, public health experts say

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Monday, October 19 in Phoenix, Arizona.

President Trump’s attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, won’t help the United States battle the coronavirus pandemic, said Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University School of Public Health.

It’s “disturbing and “upsetting” to hear the President say such things, Jha told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“We’re in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century and Dr. Fauci is America’s most respected infectious disease expert for good reason,” Jha said. 

“He is the best there is and to attack him personally is very unfortunate and it is not going to help the country out,” Jha added. 

“I mean, right now we’re heading into a difficult fall and winter. Attacking your best experts is not what you want to be doing if you’re President of the United States.”

It could also have dire health consequences, Jha said.

“Dr. Fauci isn’t just somebody that the public respects. All of us in the medical field who study these things look up to him as the best there is,” Jha noted.

“And so undermining him and undermining his message really makes it so much harder to control this virus, so much harder to control this pandemic. I think the President’s doing a great disservice to Dr. Fauci, but really to the country.”

Trump called Fauci a “disaster” and referred to him and other health experts as “idiots” in a campaign phone call on Monday.

Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “Full Circle” if political leaders aren’t working with scientists to pull the nation together in their coronavirus response, they’re likely going to fail.

“The only way response works is when you have a unity of message between the political leaders and the science leaders because the science leaders are never going to be asking people to do things that are easy. They’re asking people to change their lifestyle, to take action, to reduce the spread of an infectious agent and that requires sacrifice and when you don’t have your political leaders pulling the nation together and making it a national effort, you’re going to fail,” he said.

“Infectious agents don’t care what political party you support. They don’t care where you live. They will infect everybody and anybody,” he said.

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Everyone who wants one should be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine by March or early April, Azar says

The race to get a Covid-19 vaccine has involved some of the largest vaccine clinical trials ever orchestrated, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday.

“Obviously, we’re all hoping that we’ll see data as soon as possible,” Azar said at a conference sponsored by the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan think tank founded by ex-banker Michael Milken.

“It is an amazing achievement for the President, for Operation Warp Speed, for our biopharmaceutical industry in the United States that we even have this in range,” Azar said.

Under Operation Warp Speed, the US is producing millions of vaccines currently. All six vaccine candidates that the US has invested in or contracted to buy are being manufactured at commercial scale right now, Azar said. He said he believes that there will be enough vaccines by the end of December to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations in the US. By the end of January, he believes there will be enough to vaccinate all seniors and health care workers and first responders.

“By the end of March, early April, we believe we will have enough vaccine produced to vaccinate anybody in the United States who wanted to get vaccinated,” Azar said.

The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccine trials are paused in the US, as is Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody trial.

“The American people should feel very reassured, actually, by these developments. That shows we’re putting patients at the center,” Azar said. “It shows that we’re playing by the book. It shows that the FDA is in the driver’s seat.”

Vaccine approvals will be determined by the career leadership at the FDA, Azar said.

Nearly 200 band members quarantined after students test positive for Covid-19

Ocean Springs High School in Ocean Springs Mississippi, on October 18.

Nearly 200 band students in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, are in quarantine after fellow band members tested positive for Covid-19, according to the district’s superintendent.

Ocean Springs School District Superintendent Dr. Bonita Coleman said 193 band students at Ocean Springs High School were quarantining as a precautionary measure after “three or more” band members tested positive. 

“We are meticulously following the MS Dept. of Health guidelines which do not define an outbreak by a percentage of a population but rather uses a flat number of three for a class, team or group,” Coleman told CNN.

According to the superintendent, the district’s positivity rate for students is currently at 0.54%. Ocean Springs High School has an enrollment of over 1,800 students. 

The quarantined students were moved to the school’s virtual learning platform Monday, Coleman said.

Tennessee reports highest single-day increase in Covid-19 cases

The Tennessee Department of Health reported 3,317 new cases of Covid-19 today, the state’s highest single-day increase of cases.

The previous record — 3,314 cases — was set on July 13.

Tennessee has reported a total of 232,061 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. The state also recorded 13 new deaths, bringing the total number of Covid-19-related fatalities to 2,922.

The state’s current positivity rate stands at 8.31%, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

Note: These numbers were released by the state’s public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

Mexico will extend US land border restrictions due to coronavirus concerns

A sign indicating a pedestrian crossing from Tijuana, Mexico to the United States is pictured on September 1.

Mexico will extend land border restrictions with the United States for another month, the country’s foreign ministry announced on Twitter Monday. 

“The restrictions will be maintained in the same terms in which they have been developed since their implementation on March 21st,” the tweet said. The extension will remain in effect through Nov. 21.

The US Embassy in Mexico confirmed the extension in a statement Monday.

“The ups and downs in the outbreaks and flare-ups of Covid-19 have forced us to extend once again the restrictions on the border crossings,” Edgar Ramírez, attaché of the Department of Homeland Security at the United States Embassy in Mexico, said in the statement.

Indigenous Colombians defy Covid-19 restrictions for anti-government march

Indigenous Colombians protest against the government in Bogota, Colombia, on Monday, October 19. The leaders of the indigenous communities say they are mobilizing to reject massacres, assassinations of social leaders, criminalization of social protest, to defend their territory, democracy and peace, and plan to stay in the capital for a nationwide protest and strike on Oct. 21.

Thousands of indigenous people from southwest Colombia marched in the country’s capital Bogota on Monday to protest the government’s economic policies and to demand an end to violence in their areas. 

According to the mayor’s office in Bogota, at least 6,000 people reached the capital, despite Covid-19 restrictions, to demand a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque.

The indigenous Colombians are protesting economic conditions in rural Colombia and the alleged killing of hundreds of social leaders by criminal groups.

Duque has so far refused to meet with the protesters, but his High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos, said in a statement on Sunday the government kept 80% of the promises made when similar grievances were presented last year.

Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez met with protesters on Monday as they reached the central Bolivar Square and said their right to protest should be respected, despite social distancing restrictions ordered by her own office. 

Colombia has reported at least 959,572 Covid-19 cases so far, and the government has declared a state of emergency until the end of October.

Covid-19 situation in Brussels "close to a tsunami," Belgian health minister says 

A person walks past closed restaurants at the Grand-Place in Brussels on October 19.

The coronavirus situation in the Belgian region of Wallonia and the capital Brussels is “close to a tsunami,” the health minister said in a televised interview on Sunday. 

Frank Vandenbroucke warned “the health situation in Wallonia and in Brussels is the worst and the most dangerous in the whole of Europe.” 

Belgium is now on Johns Hopkins University’s list of 10 countries currently most affected by coronavirus. 

It has the third-highest number of Covid-related deaths per 100,000 people in the world, sitting behind San Marino and Peru, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Vandenbroucke called on all Belgians to protect themselves and their relatives, adding that the epidemic “is no one’s fault, but improving the situation is everyone’s duty.” 

However, the health minister defended the government’s policy of installing a curfew from midnight, and not earlier in the evening, saying that the government “did not want to make life impossible.” 

California will review any FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine before it is distributed

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced the state will independently review the safety of any FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine before it is distributed in the state.

An 11-member task force of health experts, dubbed the “Scientific Safety Review Workgroup,” will review the safety and efficacy of vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration before distribution in the nation’s most populous state, Newsom said.

“A question I often get is: Are you going to take someone’s word for it as it relates to vaccines?” Newsom said. “Of course, we don’t take anyone’s word for it. We will do our own independently reviewed process with our world class experts that just happen to live here in the state of California.”

The vaccines currently in development will initially be available in limited supply and will be prioritized to health care workers, first responders, and higher risk groups, according to Newsom. 

“We don’t anticipate mass availability until 2021,” Newsom said.

While the state is expected to receive about 1.5 to 2 million vaccines, Newsom said the state has approximately that many people working in the health care system. 

The governor also discussed the challenging storage requirements for these vaccines, which need to be stored with dry ice and in extremely cold temperatures. Each distribution of vaccination has to occur on a 21-day period, he said.

Newsom warned that the vaccines won’t end the coronavirus overnight, but will be a key tool to help manage the pandemic. He urged people to continue wearing masks and physically distance.

Ireland imposes strict restrictions to tackle surge in Covid-19 cases

Pedestrians wearing face masks are seen in Dublin, Ireland on October 19.

Ireland will move to “Level 5” alert — the country’s highest level of coronavirus restrictions — for six weeks to tackle a surge in cases, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced on Monday.  

The new restrictions will be imposed starting midnight local time Wednesday, but schools and childcare services will remain open unlike the lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic.  

Last week, Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommended to the government for the second time this month that the country should impose stricter measures to stop the spread of the virus. 

In early October, the Irish government went against NPHET’s recommendation, and instead chose to impose “Level 3” restrictions throughout the country for three weeks. 

Under the new restrictions, there should be no social gatherings at homes or in gardens, and restaurants, cafes and bars can only open to provide takeaway services.  

Despite the original outline for “Level 5” stating only six people could attend weddings, Martin said they will continue to allow an attendance of 25. The government is also asking people to work from home, unless considered an essential worker. 

Last week, Ireland recorded 7,495 new cases and 26 deaths. Two of those deaths recorded occurred in September, and one happened back in June. 

This marked a considerable jump in cases from the week before, where 4,510 cases and 17 news deaths were recorded. 

On Monday, the total number of cases recorded in the country since the start of the pandemic also surpassed 50,000. 

“The days are getting shorter and colder, but I ask you to remember this; even as the winter comes in there is hope, and there is light. If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way,” Martin said during his address to the nation on Monday.  

States have their Covid-19 vaccine plans filed — but no money to pay for them

A participant for a COVID-19 vaccine trial receives a dose at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13.

Friday was the deadline for states to file their plans for distributing any coronavirus vaccine, but they still don’t have the needed federal money to help them do it, state health officials said Monday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked states to file their plans by last week. 

“As it stands now, we do not have any capability to fund the imminent implementation of the plan,” James Blumenstock, senior vice president for pandemic response and recovery at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), told reporters on Monday.

He said the CDC has distributed $200 million to states for preparedness and planning. “That certainly would not be sufficient at all for a campaign of this magnitude and duration that we are thinking of,” Blumenstock said.

ASTHO has asked Congress for $8.4 billion to help states distribute and administer vaccines to people, once they became available.

“Even if the money was appropriated today, it would take time for those funds to reach the jurisdictions that in turn would need it,” Blumenstock said.

He compared the current response to the rollout of vaccines for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009. What’s been provided now compared to what was provided then seems “woefully inadequate,” he said.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said his state and likely others could probably get started vaccinating frontline health care workers once a vaccine became available, because they will be in easy-to-reach places such as hospitals and clinics. 

What will be more difficult, he said, will be reaching the people designated as high risk of severe complications for coronavirus who are not frontline medical and emergency workers, such as people with underlying health conditions.

States will face considerable difficulties distributing coronavirus vaccines, especially as some require special ultra-cold handling conditions. Record-keeping will also be complicated because some vaccines will require two doses. The vaccines made by different companies have very different formulations, so if more than one is authorized, clinics will have to keep careful note of which vaccines patients get so they get a second dose of the same brand of vaccine.

Carolina Panthers working virtually following inconclusive Covid-19 test result

The NFL’s Carolina Panthers instructed players, coaches, and staff to work virtually Monday and Tuesday after receiving an unconfirmed positive Covid-19 test result, according to a statement from a team spokesperson, who said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution.

The training room at the team’s Bank of America Stadium remains open to essential personnel and players. The team plans to return to its regular itinerary on Wednesday.  

The team also announced that there is no impact on early voting activities at Bank of America Stadium.

Mexican president getting tested for Covid-19 on Tuesday

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives his daily, morning news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, on October 16.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be tested for Covid-19 on Tuesday following news that the Secretary of Marine, José Rafael Ojeda Duran, tested positive for the virus last week. 

Speaking at his daily morning news conference, López Obrador said he usually gets tested weekly to be sure. “I take care and keep safe distance, that is key. Fortunately, I have had no symptoms,” he said Monday. 

This is the first time he makes a public statement of getting tested on a weekly basis.

Several members of his cabinet have tested positive in recent weeks, including some in his inner circle such as Mexico’s finance minister, Arturo Herrera, and the director of the social health institute, Zoé Robledo.  

As of Sunday, Mexico has at least 851,227 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 86,167 Covid-19 related deaths.

Dow sinks on dashed hopes for stimulus

Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, October 14, in New York.

The Dow has swung wildly Monday. It opened slightly higher on China’s strong economic news and hopes that a stimulus deal could get done ahead of the election.

But those hopes were dashed later in the day.

The Dow is now trading down over 430 points.

More than 219,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

The group Marked by COVID holds a vigil and listens to the stories of people who have lost close relatives from the COVID-19 pandemic in a public memorial for the dead on October 8 in Greely Square, New York.

There are at least 8,180,502 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 219,891 people have died from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

So far today, Johns Hopkins has recorded 25,908 new cases and 217 reported deaths.

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

Speaker Pelosi lays out differences that remain on stimulus