October 27 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 2:23 a.m. ET, October 28, 2020
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2:09 p.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Catch up: Here are the latest coronavirus updates from the Northeast

Coronavirus cases are surging around the US, including in parts of the Northeast.

Here are some of the top headlines from the region so far today:

  • Increases across Vermont: Vermont health officials said last week the state had a Covid-19 case in “every single one of Vermont’s 14 counties.” Officials also reported a growing number of schools being impacted, including a recent outbreak at Saint Michael’s College with 26 active positive cases and 137 students who have been identified as contacts and are now in quarantine.
  • Spiking cases in young people in Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters Tuesday that the Department of Health reported 1,216 new cases of Covid-19 and 550 hospitalizations from Monday. The state is seeing a decrease in the number of cases of individuals above 60 — "the most vulnerable," he said — and a spike in cases among people under 30. Baker said around 300 people per day in the younger age group are testing positive for Covid-19. 
  • A warning from NYC's mayor: In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio asked residents to remain in the city for the upcoming holidays and refrain from traveling. He said this is a recommendation based on health care leadership. “Do not travel out of state for the holidays. Do not travel to a state with a high infection rate. Do not travel to a country with a high infection rate,” the mayor said Tuesday.
  • No new restrictions in Philadelphia — yet: Philadelphia will not be imposing new restrictions amid the pandemic Tuesday, but officials are considering a “range of options.” Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's health commissioner, said the city is entering a “difficult and dangerous” period of the pandemic. “With the rising case rates, we are looking at a variety of restrictions,” he later said. No decisions have been made, he said.

Here's a look at where coronavirus cases are rising across the US:

1:59 p.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Coronavirus cases are truly up and it's not just because of more testing, Trump's testing czar says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Assistant HHS Secretary for Health Brett Giroir testifying during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23, 2020. 
Assistant HHS Secretary for Health Brett Giroir testifying during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23, 2020.  Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Coronavirus cases are truly up across the US and it’s not just because of more testing Admiral Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Tuesday – directly contradicting President Trump.

“Testing may be identifying some more cases, I think that’s clearly true, but what we’re seeing is a real increase in the numbers,” Giroir said during a Washington Post live event on Tuesday.

In March and April, probably only one out of 10 or 15 cases were being detected, he said. Today can’t really be compared to that time period, “but compared to the post Memorial Day surge, even though testing is up, this is a real increase in cases,” he said.

Giroir said case numbers are up and also hospitalizations are also going up.

He said hospitals are filling up and coming under stress in some parts of the country, but the number of people in the hospital with coronavirus is still lower than it was in July.

“We really have a mixed picture, but we are tenuous now. We really have to re-engage the public health measures that we know work, or those hospitalizations can go up substantially,” Giroir said. 

One good thing is that a lot more young people are getting the virus compared to older people, which is one reason why hospitalizations are shorter, Giroir said. Also, there are some effective therapies.

12:27 p.m. ET, October 27, 2020

This teen contracted Covid-19 in March and is yet to fully recover

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Thirteen-year-old Maggie Flannery contracted Covid-19 in March but she still hasn’t recovered.

“At the beginning of the quarantine, I was sick for a little while. And then I got better for about five days and then I went down again,” she told CNN. “It was a lot worse the second time. The second time I had a lot of chest pain, it felt like it was hard to breathe. I had a lot of back pain and I was extremely tired all the time and I was very light headed. I was really nauseous and didn't want to eat.”

Flannery is a "long-hauler." These are Covid-19 patients who experience symptoms of the virus for weeks or months despite having virologically recovered. They have fatigue, myalgia, fever and cognitive abnormalities such as the inability to concentrate, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told a Senate committee in September.

More than 657,000 children and teens across the United States have tested positive for the virus as of October 1, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association. And this figure is likely underreported because it relied on state data that is inconsistently collected.

Despite her symptoms, doctors kept telling Flannery she was healthy, her mother Amy Wilson said.

“I had to be okay with the fact that this was a novel coronavirus,” she told CNN. “It was frustrating but at the same time, I knew there was no way for these specialists to understand what long Covid was when we were all figuring it out at the same time.”

To others who may be battling the virus, Flannery advised:

“At a certain point, it feels like you aren't going to get better. I kind of lost hope that I was going to get better. But I've gotten better and I'm almost completely done with it. So just keep pushing through it.”

Watch:

10:57 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

NYC mayor asks people not to travel during the holidays

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

A man looks out at the Manhattan skyline in a Brooklyn neighborhood on September 29, 2020 in New York City. 
A man looks out at the Manhattan skyline in a Brooklyn neighborhood on September 29, 2020 in New York City.  Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is asking residents to refrain from traveling during the upcoming holiday season, saying "it's not business as usual."

He said this is a recommendations based on health care leadership.

“Do not travel out of state for the holidays. Do not travel to a state with a high infection rate. Do not travel to a country with a high infection rate,” the mayor said Tuesday.

For those who do travel, the mayor encouraged people get tested and follow the 14-day quarantine required upon return.

Mayor de Blasio also asked the federal government to mandate anyone getting on an airplane for an international or domestic flight receive a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior.

The latest numbers: The mayor said there were 60 patients admitted to hospitals with suspected cases of Covid-19 which is under the threshold of 200. However, the percentage of those confirmed positive is 21.6% which means nearly a quarter of those admitted were positive for the virus.

The number of new cases reported on a seven-day average is 528 which is only slightly under the 550 threshold.

While hospitalizations and deaths remain low, de Blasio asked everyone to remain vigilant as the holidays approach.

Note: These numbers were released by the city’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.

10:28 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Is it safe to fly this holiday season? Here's what some scientists are saying.

From Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace

A sign reminds travelers to wear face coverings displayed at an American Airlines Group Inc. boarding gate at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. 
A sign reminds travelers to wear face coverings displayed at an American Airlines Group Inc. boarding gate at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.  Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Experts are giving mixed messages about the Covid-19 risks of air travel as Americans consider their Thanksgiving holiday plans.  

A Harvard University study released Tuesday modeled the airflow in airliners and say the specialized onboard ventilation systems filter out 99% of airborne viruses. 

The team of scientists concluded that a “layered approach, with ventilation gate-to-gate, reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard aircraft below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out.”  

A contract tracing study released by Irish researchers linked 13 cases to a single passenger on a seven-hour international flight this summer where fewer than one in five seats were filled. Some passengers may not have been wearing masks.

The researchers conclude that some of the spread must have occurred on the plane because some of the passengers “had no social or airport lounge link with Groups 1 or 2 pre-flight and were not seated within two rows of them.” 

The Harvard researchers described wearing masks as a critical part of keeping travelers safe in aircraft cabins, but stopped short of calling for a government mask mandate onboard flights. But with people bunching up in jetways, aisles, and airports – where ventilation systems may not be as efficient as those on aircraft, they say more research needs to be done.

The Harvard findings mirror those from recent studies from The Department of Defense, Boeing, and Airbus as airlines are struggle to bring domestic passenger traffic above 40 percent of last year's levels.

Last week, Southwest Airlines cited the earlier studies as the reason to resume the sale of every seat on its flights starting December 1.

10:08 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Illinois health official who cried while reporting new cases and deaths: "People are not quite getting it"

CNN
CNN

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that Covid-19 is something to be concerned about and it is frustrating that "people are not quite getting it."

As the state reports record numbers, she said people need to take personal responsibility to reduce infections each day – including things like following science and wearing masks.

"I think there's an intense desire to believe in things that are comforting, but not necessarily true," she told CNN on Tuesday.

Ezike fought back tears during a news briefing on Friday where she reported new coronavirus deaths and thousands of additional cases. She wiped a tear with her bare hand and turned away from the podium to compose herself. A man in a mask walked over with a box of tissues. She wiped her eyes and returned to the microphone.

"I know that sometimes the truth is painful, but I think the data, the facts, the science bear out the truth and I think all public health officials have been echoing the same chorus and we all need to be on that same page that the masks work," she said on CNN today.

Ezike said that it is frustrating that "people are not quite getting it" even though science has pointed to mitigation methods that "could make history not repeat" itself.

"Tomorrow, the infections have not been determined, so we have a role today to take precautions so much fewer number of people get infected tomorrow," she said.

Ezike called for the country to have a unified approach to how to get the virus under control, including a national testing strategy, adding that she feels like there have been mixed messages that have confused the public.

"We are bordered by six states in Illinois and nobody lives in a vacuum so the sooner we have a unified approach, the sooner we can get this virus under control," she said.

Watch:

9:22 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

How to stay safe on Halloween and Thanksgiving, according to a biologist

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A boy pulls a wagon with three pumpkins at a Pumpkinfest in Lincolnshire, Illinois, the United States, on Oct. 17, 2020.
A boy pulls a wagon with three pumpkins at a Pumpkinfest in Lincolnshire, Illinois, the United States, on Oct. 17, 2020. Joel Lerner/Xinhua/Getty Images

Erin Bromage, a biology professor specializing in immunology at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, outlined the risks of Halloween and Thanksgiving as coronavirus cases spike in the US — and how you can minimize the dangers. 

“When the children knock on the door, it becomes a really tight, confined space with number of people there yelling ‘trick or treat.’ And that just creates that close environment that we really are trying to avoid right now,” Bromage said on CNN’s “New Day.”

He said his neighbors are setting up tables at the end of their driveways or hanging candy from spiderweb decorations. 

Children should still wear cloth masks and keep their distance outside while trick-or-treating, according to Bromage.

“A mask under a mask would be the safest way to actually go,” he said. 

Bromage also admitted he is “feeling a little dark about Thanksgiving.” 

He said families should think about limiting the number of people who gather for the holiday and changing plans to not include high-risk family members. 

“There are some pretty big risks associated with gathering everybody together this year,” he said.

He said if families are still thinking of celebrating with extended family members, they should consider not having kids in school or group sports, while adults should make sure they do not engage in any high-risk activities for at least a week beforehand.  

On Thanksgiving, open windows, space out people and consider buying a HEPA filter, he said.  

Watch more:

8:15 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Catch up: Here's the latest on the pandemic in Europe

Europe's second coronavirus wave continues to bear down on the continent, with cases rising in many countries and areas implementing new restrictions as a result.

Here are some of the top headlines on the pandemic this morning:

  • Italy protests Covid-19 measures: Protesters have clashed with police in northern Italy, as demonstrations erupted across the country Monday night over government restrictions aimed at quelling a second wave of Covid-19. In Turin, dozens were wounded in the clashes, and protesters set fire to garbage bins and looted luxury boutiques, including Gucci and Louis Vuitton stores, police said.
  • A dire situation in Belgium: Belgium is on the brink of a coronavirus disaster as a top health official warned that the country could run out of intensive care beds in as little as two weeks. The country of 11.5 million people has reported on average more than 13,000 cases a day in the past week, according to the national public health institute Sciensano.
  • Where Russia stands on its vaccine: As the second wave of Covid-19 hits the country — with record numbers of new infections and deaths — the vaccine, named Sputnik V, is far from being widely available to the general public.
  • Will the pope wear a mask? A Vatican official says they “are trying to convince” Pope Francis to wear a mask in public. Responding to a question from CNN about why the Pope doesn’t wear a mask, Fr. Augusto Zampini, the Vatican’s coordinator for its Covid-19 Commission said: “We are trying to convince him. He’s started to use it, I think.” Pope Francis has come under criticism for not wearing a mask in public
8:05 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Belgium on the brink as virus surge fills ICU beds

A medical worker tends to a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at The University Hospital Centre in Liege, Belgium, on October 22.
A medical worker tends to a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at The University Hospital Centre in Liege, Belgium, on October 22. Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Belgium is on the brink of a coronavirus disaster as a top health official warned that the country could run out of intensive care beds in as little as two weeks.

The country of 11.5 million people has reported on average more than 13,000 cases a day in the past week, according to the national public health institute Sciensano. The Covid-19 outbreak in Belgium is the second worst in Europe in terms of new cases per capita, after only the Czech Republic.

Yves Van Laethem, Belgium's spokesperson for the fight against the coronavirus, warned that unless Belgians change their behavior, intensive care units will reach their capacity of 2,000 patients in 15 days.

At a news conference Monday, Van Laethem said that 1,000 of the country's intensive beds are already being used, with total of 1,250 set to be occupied by the end of the week. Both hospital and intensive care admissions are doubling every eight days, he added.

Read the full story here.