October 20 coronavirus news

By Emma Reynolds, Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020
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1:21 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

US sees nearly 300,000 excess deaths amid pandemic so far, CDC study suggests

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The United States has seen nearly 300,000 excess deaths so far since late January – and the groups with the biggest jumps in excess deaths, percentage-wise, have been adults ages 25 to 44 and Hispanic people, according to a report published Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The report included mortality data from Jan. 26 through Oct. 3, to help researchers measure how many more people died this year during the coronavirus pandemic than otherwise would have been expected.

"An estimated 299,028 more persons than expected have died since January 26, 2020; approximately two thirds of these deaths were attributed to COVID-19," CDC researchers wrote in the report. 

"Although more excess deaths have occurred among older age groups, relative to past years, adults aged 25-44 years have experienced the largest average percentage increase in the number of deaths from all causes from late January through October 3," the researchers wrote. "Among racial and ethnic groups, the smallest average percentage increase in numbers of deaths compared with previous years occurred among White persons (11.9%) and the largest for Hispanic persons (53.6%)."

The report has some limitations, including that mortality data can lag, and estimates of how many deaths would otherwise be expected are based on models.

1:19 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Pelosi projects optimism in Covid-19 stimulus talks

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Bloomberg TV
Bloomberg TV

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday she is optimistic that Democrats can strike a deal with the Trump administration for another coronavirus stimulus package.

“I’m optimistic because I do think we have a shared value — not many, but a shared value — that finally they want to crush the virus,” Pelosi said during an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“We all want to get an agreement because people need it. It’s urgent, and our economy needs it,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully by the end of the day today, we’ll know where we all are.”

Pelosi also downplayed her previous deadline for a deal prior to the election — which she said Sunday would be the end of the day Tuesday.

“Let me just say, it isn’t that this day was the day that we would have a deal. It was the day where we would have our terms on the table to be able to go to the next step. And again, legislation takes a long time,” she said.

Pelosi said she hopes to have the potential legislation finalized this week with passage by next Friday.

1:08 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

More than 220,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

People attend a candlelight vigil a procession in tribute to all of the lives affected by the novel coronavirus outside The Cathedral of St. John the Divine on October 19, in New York City.
People attend a candlelight vigil a procession in tribute to all of the lives affected by the novel coronavirus outside The Cathedral of St. John the Divine on October 19, in New York City. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

There are at least 8,228,870 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 220,417 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

So far today, Johns Hopkins has recorded 15,889 new cases and 298 reported deaths.

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

12:30 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Pennsylvania reports 1,000 new Covid-19 cases for the 15th day in a row

From CNN's Julian Cummings

The Pennsylvania department of health reported 1,557 new cases of Covid-19, the 15th consecutive day the state has reported over 1,000 new infections of coronavirus. 

The statewide number of total cases now stands at 184,872. 

Additionally, Pennsylvania reported 33 new deaths related to Covid-19, bringing the statewide death total to 8,533. 

The Pennsylvania department of health says that they are “seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds.”

12:37 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Simulation suggests open windows and glass barriers might help reduce Covid-19 spread in classrooms

From CNN’s Sierra Jenkins

Sixth grade students at the Max Planck School in Kiel, Germany sit in their classroom during their first lesson after the autumn holidays on October 19.
Sixth grade students at the Max Planck School in Kiel, Germany sit in their classroom during their first lesson after the autumn holidays on October 19. Gregor Fischer/picture alliance/Getty Images

Ventilation and student placement can affect how coronavirus particles move around a classroom, according to a study published on Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids. The study also found that removing some seats, opening windows, placing glass barriers on desks and focusing on hand hygiene may help to reduce spread of the virus.

The authors conducted 20 computer simulations of how particles could spread based on a classroom including nine students and an instructor and desks with and without glass screens on the front.

Each student’s placement went beyond the typical recommendation of 6 feet of separation – instead there was 7 feet and 10 inches between each person. The model’s floor plan consisted of three rows of three desks with an instructor at the front corner. 

“Aerosol distribution in the room is not uniform and is strongly influenced by air conditioning layout,” said the authors, from the University of New Mexico. 

Based on the simulation, the authors suggest removing the middle seat to reduce potential spread. Students in the back corners received two to three times fewer particles on average than other students, so those may be better positions for students at risk for Covid-19 complications, the study said.

The authors said opening windows while the air conditioning was on increased the particles exiting the room and decreased particles deposited on those in the room. 

The study emphasizes the need for “efficient filtering in the air conditioning systems.”

Ventilation from air conditioning systems reduces the number of particles in the air. However, since air flow is often recycled, the authors said particles exiting the classroom “may pose greater risk to individuals in other rooms.” 

Even with only nine students and distance between them, aerosol “is transmitted in significant quantities between students and from one student other students’ desks,” the study said, highlighting the need for hand sanitization.

In the simulations, glass screens on desks reduced the spread of small particles from one student to another, and the authors said they should be used. But effectiveness will vary depending on air conditioning and the source of the aerosol.

12:00 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

New York City has not seen marked increase in Covid-19 deaths, officials say

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday, “The number of deaths has not been increasing markedly.“

“Our profound concern is to not let this challenge gather steam and not allow a second wave in the door," the mayor said.

“We are not seeing an increase in overall deaths and that’s been true over the last several weeks to several months” said Dave Chokshi commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Human Services. 

“The total number of deaths per day is averaging in the single digits,” he added. 

Hospitalizations and deaths lag an increase in cases, as was seen earlier this year, he reminded. 

11:51 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

UK Covid-19 death toll 3 times higher than the day before

From CNN's Hilary McGann in London

The UK recorded 241 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday — more than three times the 80 deaths reported on Monday — according to the government's website. 

In each case, the person died within 28 days of first testing positive for coronavirus, the government explained. 

On Tuesday another 21,331 cases were reported in the UK. 

11:44 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

CDC "strongly recommends" mask-wearing on public transit

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

People wearing face masks take the subway on September 10 in New York City.
People wearing face masks take the subway on September 10 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Passengers and operators of public transportation – including airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares – should wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, according to interim guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"CDC strongly recommends appropriate masks be worn by all passengers and by all personnel operating the conveyance while on public conveyances," according to the interim guidance on the agency's website, which appears to have been last reviewed on Monday.

People should wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when waiting or, traveling on, or leaving public transportation, the CDC guidance advises. 

"Conveyance operators transporting people should refuse boarding to anyone not wearing a mask and require all people onboard, whether passengers or employees, to wear masks for the duration of travel," it says – except when eating or in need of medical attention, for instance.

Face masks help prevent people who have COVID-19, including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, from spreading the virus to others," the guidance said.

11:35 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

2 hospitals updated Covid-19 visitation policies after religious discrimination complaints, HHS says

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Two hospitals have updated their visitation policies amid the coronavirus pandemic to accommodate designated support persons for people with disabilities, the US Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights announced on Tuesday.

The hospitals — MedStar Health System’s Southern Maryland Hospital Center and Mary Washington Healthcare in Virginia — made these updates to their policies around the same time they resolved separate religious visitation complaints, according to the Office for Civil Rights.

"These two hospitals have also updated their policies to allow for designated support persons to accompany people with disabilities in their hospitals," Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights, said during a phone call with reporters on Tuesday.

"This is a great result. I think we're seeing now that we've learned more and more about this virus, and what is necessary to keep people safe," Severino said. "So we're adapting to the circumstances and accommodating to make sure that nobody is left behind, including persons with disabilities, including persons of faith, and that we treat the whole person — mind body and soul — without sacrificing any one for the other."