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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11:58 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Italy has recorded more than 19,000 new Covid-19 cases in last 24 hours

From Valentina Di Donato

Milan on October 20, 2020 in front of the Duomo shows people walking across and wearing protective face masks.
Milan on October 20, 2020 in front of the Duomo shows people walking across and wearing protective face masks. Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Italy reported another record high with 19,143 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Italian health ministry on Friday. That's up from Thursday's record of 16,079 new coronavirus cases.

Italy also reported 91 coronavirus deaths on Friday.

The governor of Campania, Vincenzo De Luca, has asked the government for a national lockdown and has announced he will close the region “for 30 to 40 days” to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“Said in a brutally clear way, I don’t want to find ourselves in front of military trucks that carry hundreds of coffins,” De Luca said in a video message.

The governor of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, said it is a “dramatic situation.”

One hundred scientists have written an open letter to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte asking for “drastic measures” to be taken in the next two to three days.

11:33 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from Florida

From CNN’s Tina Burnside

The Florida Department of Health is reporting 3,689 additional coronavirus cases on Friday and 73 new deaths.

To date, Florida has recorded a total of 771,780 Covid-19 cases statewide and 16,543 deaths, according to data released by the health department. 

On Thursday, the state recorded more than 5,500 cases, its highest single-daily increase in more than two months.

Note: These numbers were released by Florida’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.

11:17 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Wearing masks could save more than 100,000 US lives, new study suggests

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Former Clark County Democrats Chairwoman Donna West looks on as an observer as Clark County election workers scan mail-in ballots at the Clark County Election Department on October 20, in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Former Clark County Democrats Chairwoman Donna West looks on as an observer as Clark County election workers scan mail-in ballots at the Clark County Election Department on October 20, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

If 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved from Covid-19 through February, a new modeling study suggests.

The study – from the Covid-19 forecasting team at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation – notes that, as of Sept. 21, only about 49% of US residents reported that they "always" wear a mask in public.

If mask-wearing remains 49% through February and states continue with removing social distancing mandates, the Covid-19 death toll across the United States could reach about 1 million deaths by Feb. 28, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine on Friday. 

Yet, under the assumption that states shut down when their daily death rate exceeds eight deaths per 1 million people in the population but mask-wearing doesn't change, the study's model projections forecast the death toll could reach 511,373 deaths by Feb. 28.

The scenario that 95% of people in each state wear masks – in addition to states reinstating social distancing mandates if their daily death rates exceed eight deaths per 1 million people – resulted in the lowest death toll projection, with 381,798 deaths by Feb. 28, according to the study.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data on Covid-19 cases and deaths in the United States from Feb. 1 through Sept. 21. That analysis – along with other factors, such as pneumonia seasonality, testing rates and mask use – helped inform model projections for the course of the pandemic through Feb. 28.

The study had some limitations, including that the findings are only forecast projections from models and not definitive of what the future holds.

IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray emphasized during a virtual news briefing on Friday that the institute's weekly modeling projections provide more updated data than what is provided in the study. However, the study still helps offer insight into how mask-wearing can make a difference.

 

11:04 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

More than 110 million cloth masks have been delivered to states to help reopen schools, HHS official says

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

As of Thursday, the federal government has delivered more than 110 million cloth masks to states and territories to help reopen schools, an official from the US Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

The masks are part of an initiative announced in August to provide 125 million reusable cloth masks for public and private school students, teachers and staff. Distribution was to be focused on low-income students and schools reopening for in-person learning, said Jonathan Hayes, a senior adviser at HHS, during a briefing with reporters on Friday. 

The 125 million masks were split evenly among youth- and adult-sized masks; all of the adult-sized masks have been delivered to states and 77% of the youth-sized masks. State officials were to handle distribution of masks to schools.

“As a reminder, we all need to continue to follow the three Ws – wash your hands, wear a mask and watch your distance,” Hayes said.

10:57 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Uruguay will close its borders during summer season to prevent Covid-19 spread

From CNN's Jaide Garcia, Radina Gigova and Claudia Rebaza

View of Plaza Independecia in Ciudad Vieja in Montevideo, on September 10.
View of Plaza Independecia in Ciudad Vieja in Montevideo, on September 10. Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

Uruguay's borders will be closed over the county's summer season as part of an effort to halt the spread of Covid-19, President Luis Lacalle Pou announced during a news conference on Thursday. 

The summer season in Uruguay begins in December and ends in March.

“It will be a restricted summer," he said, "the borders will be basically closed, with exceptions that are already known and perhaps some more."

The president also said in-person classes in the city of Rivera will be suspended for 15 days. 

"Because today there are many cases, or several cases, in the education [sector], we have decided to suspend face-to-face classes for two weeks," he said. 

Additionally, the president said public safety measures will be enforced, and urged the public to avoid large gatherings and parties. "We will be very strict when it comes to the topic of parties," he said. 

"If Uruguay is almost at the fullness of its freedoms in meetings, economy, in the workplace and culture, it is because there has been a responsible freedom. We give in, it gets complicated, and now there is a global and regional push," he added. 

Uruguay reported at least 2,701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 53 deaths as of Friday morning.

10:58 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

HHS secretary says household gatherings are "major vectors" of Covid-19 spread

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a Covid-19 briefing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarter campus in Atlanta, on October 21.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a Covid-19 briefing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarter campus in Atlanta, on October 21. Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that household gatherings have become a “major vector” of coronavirus spread.  

“This is being driven by individual behaviors at this point … We’ve got to keep focused on washing our hands, watching our distance and wearing our face coverings when we can't watch our distance and in particular being careful in household gatherings. This has become a major vector of disease spread,” he told CNN’s Jim Sciutto. 

At last night’s debate, President Trump again said the US is “rounding the turn” in the coronavirus pandemic. Thursday was the highest day for new infections since late July.

Azar said the President is “trying to give people hope” while acknowledging “we are in a very serious moment.” 

Azar was pressed if the administration could take a more aggressive approach to the virus and why Trump continues to hold rallies without social distancing.

“In public health, we focus on mitigation fatigue,” Azar said. “… When you look back, we actually hit that curve at just about the right point to achieve the core strategic objective, which was to flatten and delay that curve. … We're seeing the impacts here and in Europe from mitigation fatigue.”

10:30 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

University of Michigan president says spread of Covid-19 is happening in social gatherings

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Health officials issued a stay-at-home order for all University of Michigan undergraduate students this week amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

“I think there's a little bit of Covid-19 fatigue going on,” said the university's president Mark Schlissel. 

“99% of our student cases are in people less than 22 years old. It's the undergraduate population. And the epidemiology of these cases shows us that they're not happening due to spread in our classrooms or in our campus facilities. They're happening under social circumstances, where small numbers of people let their guard down,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

The order expires Nov. 3, and Schlissel said that students will go home for a week and return to online-only learning for the rest of the semester. For students who elect to return home now, he said there will be self-isolation and testing requirements to follow. 

“It's the last three or four weeks, as you see happening all around the nation, that things have started to slip away from us,” he told CNN.

As the University of Michigan Wolverines are set to resume the Big Ten football schedule tomorrow, Schlissel said he didn’t want to "penalize student athletes.” He added that he thinks very limited ticketing and rapid testing will decrease the risk of spreading the virus. 

Watch more:

10:21 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

France "paying the price" for ending lockdown too soon, health official says

From Gaëlle Fournier in Paris

A patient infected with Covid-19 sits on her bed in the infectious diseases unit of the Gonesse hospital in Gonesse, north of Paris, on October 22.
A patient infected with Covid-19 sits on her bed in the infectious diseases unit of the Gonesse hospital in Gonesse, north of Paris, on October 22. Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

France is paying the price for ending the coronavirus lockdown too quickly, said Gilles Pialoux, the head of infectious diseases at Tenon Hospital in Paris.

The country reported a new record for daily coronavirus infections on Thursday, with 41,622 new cases in a 24-hour period, according to numbers released by the French Health Agency.

It will be “really difficult to avoid a (second) lockdown given the circulation of the virus," Pialoux told BFM Friday.

France is “paying for an end of lockdown that happened too quickly, a summer that was too careless, and a new school year that was not anticipated enough,” he added.

He said local lockdowns or lockdowns “by population group” could be the solution. The doctor added the circulation of the virus among the “20-30 year old” age group was “far beyond” the rest of the population.

Martin Hirsch, the head of Paris Public Hospitals, said the second wave “could be worse than the first one."

Hirsch told RTL radio on Friday of a “fearsome” situation, calling on all French people to adapt their behaviors to combat the epidemic and prevent intensive care units from being saturated.

10:13 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Coronavirus infections reach new peaks across Europe

From CNN’s Tim Lister

A medical worker prepares an injection in a corridor of the infectious diseases unit of the Gonesse hospital before visiting a patient in Gonesse, north of Paris, on October 22.
A medical worker prepares an injection in a corridor of the infectious diseases unit of the Gonesse hospital before visiting a patient in Gonesse, north of Paris, on October 22. Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

The five countries with the highest rate of coronavirus infections when measured against population are all in Europe, according to the latest moving averages from Johns Hopkins University analyzed by CNN.

They are the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France. 

In all five countries, the number of new infections has increased rapidly since the beginning of October and continues to rise.

  • On Oct. 19, the Czech Republic had a rolling daily average (measured across five days) of 10,579 new cases. That means 988 new infections a day per one million population. On Oct. 1, the rate was 238 per million. 
  • Not far behind was Belgium, which had an average of 891 new infections per million residents on Oct. 19. At the beginning of the month, that average was just 198.  

These two countries have by far the highest rate of new Covid-19 infections, but other countries in Europe are seeing steep rises.

The Netherlands’ daily average of new cases at the beginning of October was 2,944; on Oct. 19 it was 8,277. Measured per million of population, that represents an increase from 172 to 483 in less than three weeks. 

Johns Hopkins lists the 20 countries most affected by the pandemic and in recent days Switzerland has been added. Its rolling average of new cases on Oct. 19 was 3,618 – more than seven times higher than the number (504) on Oct. 1. That equates to 423 new cases daily per million residents. 

Rounding out the most affected countries, France had 381 new cases per million residents on Oct. 19.

The United Kingdom has seen a sharp rise in its rolling average this month, from 9,729 new cases to 19,290 per day – which equates to 284 cases per million. 

The picture in Spain is less dramatic but the daily average remains stubbornly high. Despite new measures to restrict movement in the most affected areas, the daily average of new cases has only edged down from 14,690 at the beginning of the month to 13,987 on Oct. 19 – 299 per million.  

While infections per million are lower in other European countries, they are still rising.

Italy, which was one of the worst affected countries earlier in the year, is suffering a new spike. Its rolling average of new cases has risen from 2,208 at the start of the month to 11,341 this week. 

Poland is also among the countries listed by Johns Hopkins – its rolling average has more than quadrupled this month. 

More broadly, according to the Johns Hopkins figures, the rolling averages of new cases in India and Brazil continue to fall, while the US is seeing a gradual but persistent rise. Its rolling average has risen from 43,089 at the start of October to 59,387 this week, representing 179 new cases a day per million population.