October 23 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Tara John, Ed Upright, Veronica Rocha, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020
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10:07 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

More than two dozen US states report a rise in Covid-19 cases. Here's what we know.

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

A Colorado Department of Transportation worker pulls on his face covering while staffing a roadblock into a housing area along Highway 7 as several wildfires burn in the state on October 21, in Lyons, Colorado.
A Colorado Department of Transportation worker pulls on his face covering while staffing a roadblock into a housing area along Highway 7 as several wildfires burn in the state on October 21, in Lyons, Colorado. David Zalubowski/AP

More than two dozen states are reporting rising Covid-19 infections, a sign the coronavirus pandemic is worsening across several US regions.

In White House coronavirus task force reports obtained by CNN this week, officials say there are "early signs of deterioration in the Sun Belt and continued deterioration in the Midwest and across the Northern States."

The data comes as more state leaders have sounded the alarm on increasing infections, hospitalizations and deaths. The national average of new daily cases has climbed to just under 60,000 – a level that hasn't been seen since the first week of August.

On Wednesday, at least 14 states saw their highest seven-day average of new daily cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. They are:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

And at least five states reported their highest daily coronavirus case counts on Thursday. They include:

  • Illinois
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Utah

Meanwhile, more than 41,000 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Hospitals in states like Missouri and Idaho say they'll soon be facing a crisis if hospitalizations continue to surge.

Deaths are also creeping upward. On Wednesday, the US reported the highest daily death toll in more than a month, with more than 1,100 new deaths. And an updated model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects more than 140,000 Americans will likely die from the virus in the next three months.

Elizabeth Cohen reports:

9:34 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Iran has more than 556,000 Covid-19 cases

From Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

Iranians wear face masks as a Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic precaution, in Iran's capital Tehran on October 19.
Iranians wear face masks as a Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic precaution, in Iran's capital Tehran on October 19. Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Iran’s health ministry reported 6,134 new Covid-19 cases over a 24-hour period on Friday, the third time this week the number of daily new cases has hit a new high.

The total number of cases in the country now stands at 556,891. 

Speaking on state TV, Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari also reported 335 new coronavirus-related deaths on Friday. This brings the country’s overall death toll to 31,985.

Lari added that 27 provinces across the country are still categorized to be in red zones.

Wearing masks in public has been mandatory in the capital Tehran for the past week. A restriction announced over a week ago on travel in and out of Tehran province is in place at least through Friday.

9:25 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Scotland announces new 5-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow

Members of the public are seen on Princess Street on October 21, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Members of the public are seen on Princess Street on October 21, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Jeff J. Mitch

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out a new five-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions, saying the nation’s slowing rate of infection allows for “cautious optimism."

The “strategic framework” will place parts of the country into levels ranging from zero to four depending on infection rates, but “it is possible that the whole country at some point could be placed in the same level,” the first minister said. 

What you need to know about the new tiered system:

  • Level zero will be the “closest to normality” the country can safely get to without a vaccine. This will allow people to meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open, with safety measures in place. 
  • Level one would see slightly more restrictions and limit indoor gatherings to six people from two households, with a “reasonable degree of normality overall."
  • Level two would apply when transmissions are higher. Gatherings in hospitality will be limited and people will be banned from meeting in private households.  
  • Level three would see the closure of many hospitality venues, such as bars and pubs, with restaurants being able to remain partially open.
  • Level four, the closest level to a full lockdown, would only be applied when “absolutely necessary” and transmission rates are very high with corresponding pressure on the health service. 

This would see nonessential retail close, but people would still be able to meet outdoors in groups of six from two households.

Different parts of Scotland are currently facing restrictions similar to those in levels two and three. The tiered system will come into effect on Nov. 2, subject to review by the Scottish Parliament. 

With 1,401 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, Sturgeon said, "cases are still rising — which is why we cannot be complacent — but the rate of increase seems to be slowing, and that gives us grounds for optimism, albeit cautious optimism."

Sturgeon added the slowing rate is due to the ban on household gatherings that came into force in September. 

Further support for businesses was also announced. They will be eligible for grants up to roughly $3,900 for every four weeks they are closed or forced to restrict services.

This is over and above support available through the UK wide job support program, that Sturgeon said must “go further,” since Scotland did not see a “single penny of extra funding” from the extended economic aid announced by the UK chancellor on Thursday. 

The business support provided by the Scottish government is the “maximum possible” it is able to provide, said Sturgeon.

9:08 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Here's the latest coronavirus update from the UK

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

People wearing masks because the novel coronavirus pandemic walk in the high street in Leigh, Greater Manchester, northwest England on October 22.
People wearing masks because the novel coronavirus pandemic walk in the high street in Leigh, Greater Manchester, northwest England on October 22. Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

The coronavirus reproduction rate (R number) in the UK has fallen, according to the latest government figures released Friday.

It is now estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.4, meaning that on average every 10 infected people will pass the virus on to between 12 and 14 other people. 

Last week, the R number was estimated to be between 1.3 and 1.5.

These regions have the highest R number:

  • South East: 1.2 - 1.5
  • South West: 1.3 - 1.6
  • North West: 1.1 - 1.3

The North West region has the strictest lockdown.

9:01 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Italian governor calls for national lockdown amid coronavirus surge

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato

Vincenzo De Luca, governor of the southwest Italian region of Campania, is urging the government to implement a national lockdown to control the second wave of coronavirus.

���The current data on the infection makes any type of partial measure ineffective,” De Luca said.

“It is necessary to close everything, except for the categories that produce and move essential goods (industry, agriculture, construction, agri-food, transport). It is essential to block mobility between regions and between municipalities. It is frankly not clear how effective limited measures can have in this context. In any case, Campania will move in this direction very soon.”

Campania encompasses the city of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, areas normally popular with tourists. 

Italy has been reporting an increasing number of coronavirus cases. On Thursday, it registered 16,079 new infections. 

8:01 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

It's 1 p.m. in London and 8 a.m. in New York. Here's the situation in Europe

Many European countries are reporting record rises in Covid-19 infections, which overtake what they saw during their spring peaks, as the second wave of the pandemic engulfs the continent.

The situation has turned political in some nations, with calls growing for the resignation of the Czech Republic's health minister, after he was photographed flouting Covid-19 rules.

Here's more:

Germany: It recorded more than 11,000 new infections for the second day in a row, which the head of the country’s disease and control agency described as "very serious." Germany's health minister said a vaccine could be available for the German population at the start of 2021.

The German government has also issued travel warnings for popular ski resorts in countries including Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Poland.

Czech Republic: Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš called on Health Minister Roman Prymula to resign on Friday, after Prymula was photographed leaving a restaurant in Prague without a mask this week -- days after he announced a strict lockdown and pleaded with people to stay home.

Sweden: “It’s time for partying in nightclubs to stop,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said Thursday as he announced restrictions on nightclubs, limiting capacity to 50 people. The tightening of these restrictions -- still lenient compared with other European countries where nightlife has all but ceased -- comes as the country sees a spike in coronavirus infections.

Ukraine: Ukraine reported 7,517 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, hitting a new daily high since the start of the pandemic. It also registered 121 coronavirus-related deaths.

Poland: It reported 13,632 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, the country’s highest number since the pandemic began. On Saturday, new restrictions come into force, which includes the closure of restaurants except for takeaway and delivery, a five-person rule for outdoor meetings, and restrictions on the movement of people over the age of 70.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter that more than 10,000 of the country's 18,000 hospital beds are currently occupied.

Slovakia: Residents will not be allowed to leave their homes from Saturday unless they have a negative coronavirus test or are carrying out an exempted activity. Slovakia went into an official state of emergency on October 1 when its infection rates started going up. The country reported a record high number of new infections on Thursday of 2,581. 

Russia: The country reported 17,340 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, around 1,000 cases more compared to the previous record daily increase reported on October 20.

7:34 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

"We cannot preach water and drink wine": Czech PM calls on health minister to resign over rule breach

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Tomas Etzler

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says he’s “absolutely shocked” by the actions of Health Minister Roman Prymula and has asked him to resign after it emerged he broke the country’s coronavirus rules.

Prymula was photographed leaving a Prague restaurant on Wednesday night and entering his chauffeur-driven government car without a mask.

Restaurants in the Czech Republic have been closed for sit-down service since October 14. Under the country’s coronavirus rules, people are also required to wear masks in a car, when shared with people from outside their house.

“This is an absolute catastrophe and I am absolutely shocked,” Babiš said Friday.

I don’t understand how, when we ask people to follow the rules, to wear masks, even in the car, and when we complicate people’s lives by closing restaurants, shops, we are restricting people’s movements, then we have to lead by an example." 

“Such a mistake cannot be excused," he said. "We cannot preach water and drink wine. When our healthcare workers fight on the frontlines to save people’s lives, this is inexcusable."

Therefore I asked the minister to resign. If he doesn’t resign, I will let him go. I asked Mr. [Jaroslav] Faltynek [Prymula’s political ally, who was also seen at the restaurant] to resign from his post as the vice-chairman of the ANO party."

The Prime Minister apologized to the public adding that the Czech government “cannot afford to lose any more trust."

The country is currently experiencing one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world in terms of new infections per capita. Babiš also apologized during a live news conference on Wednesday for the country's spiralling rate and new restrictions.

7:19 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Poland reports record number of cases as government mulls border closures

From Artur Osinski

Warning signs during a concert to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the former Pope John Paul II on October 18 in Wadowice, Poland.
Warning signs during a concert to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the former Pope John Paul II on October 18 in Wadowice, Poland. Omar Marques/Getty Images

Poland reported 13,632 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, the country’s highest number since the pandemic began and more than a 50% increase on Monday’s 7,482 cases. 

The Ministry of Health also reported a further 153 deaths related to Covid-19, the second-highest number since the start of the pandemic. Poland now has a total of 228,318 confirmed cases and 4,172 deaths.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter that more than 10,000 of the country's 18,000 hospital beds are currently occupied.

While there is "some buffer," he added: "the pace of the increase is making us very concerned. If the curve is not flattened and new cases continue to rise, we will have to introduce drastic measures such as closing the borders, restrictions on movement or a deeper lockdown.”

More restrictions: From Saturday, the government said the entire country will be placed in a “red zone” and new restrictions will be implemented.

They include: remote learning for all but the youngest pupils and students; requirement for youths up to 16 years of age to be accompanied by an adult in public spaces between 8 a.m to 4 p.m.; closing restaurants except for takeaway or delivery; a maximum of five people from outside a household allowed to meet in public spaces; restrictions on the movement of people of the age of 70.

7:09 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

"It’s time for partying in nightclubs to stop": Sweden limits clubs to 50 people

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow 

Nightclubs where dancing is permitted will be limited to a capacity of 50 people in Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced Thursday.

“It’s time for partying in nightclubs to stop,” said Lofven, adding: “It is disrespectful to health care staff, who have worked hard, day and night, when they open a newspaper and see photos from packed nightclubs and dance floors.”

The tightening of nightclub restrictions -- still lenient compared with other European countries where nightlife has all but ceased -- comes as the country sees a spike in coronavirus infections.

Sweden reported 1,614 new cases in the past 24 hours. The record was set on Tuesday with 3,180 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Venues that don’t allow for dancing but serve food and beverages for seated customers at a safe distance do not have to limit numbers.

Meanwhile rules on sporting and other events have been relaxed to allow up to 300 spectators where they can be seated at a safe distance. Currently, 50 spectators are allowed. 

The changes will come into effect on November 1.