The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim, Vasco Cotovio, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:52 a.m. ET, October 31, 2020
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10:47 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Mnuchin and Pelosi clash as coronavirus relief talks falter

From CNN's Haley Byrd

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the two top negotiators for a new round of coronavirus relief, are engaged in open warfare after weeks of private negotiations -- casting new doubt on whether they will be able to reach agreement on stimulus legislation even after the November election.

On Thursday afternoon, Mnuchin slammed Pelosi in their highest-profile clash so far, saying the speaker is refusing to compromise to get much-needed aid to Americans. 

“Your ALL OR NONE approach is hurting hard-working Americans who need help NOW,” Mnuchin wrote in a letter.

His remarks came after Pelosi sent her own letter to Mnuchin earlier Thursday that emphasized just how divided the two sides remain on the details of a potential stimulus bill, and hit the Trump administration for not accepting Democratic demands on key issues.

"The American people are suffering, and they want us to come to an agreement to save lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy as soon as possible," Pelosi wrote.

Mnuchin said he first learned of Pelosi’s letter from media reports Thursday morning, and he “can unfortunately only conclude that it is a political stunt.”

What this means for the bill: The confrontation between the two is inauspicious for the odds of a new stimulus bill. When everyone else had essentially given up on the idea of another round of coronavirus relief over the summer, Pelosi and Mnuchin continued to have phone calls to negotiate and work towards a deal. 

With Democratic leaders standing firmly behind their call for a massive aid package and Republican lawmakers instead advocating for a much smaller, targeted bill, an agreement never really appeared imminent.

But Pelosi and Mnuchin continued to insist progress was being made -- and sometimes, it was. Both had previously expressed hope that a deal could be finalized before Election Day, but talks have faltered in recent days.

At a news conference earlier in the day, Pelosi said the talks were not over. She indicated she is eyeing the congressional lame duck session after the election as an opportunity for lawmakers to approve new aid.

11:49 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

New model anticipates 399,000 total coronavirus-related deaths in the US by Feb. 1

From CNN's Maggie Fox

An influential model of the coronavirus pandemic has predicted 399,000 total coronavirus deaths in the US by Feb. 1, a 15,000-death increase over last week’s prediction.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine said it’s most likely that by the middle of January, 2,250 Americans will be dying every day from coronavirus -- three times more than the current rate.

“If states do not react to rising numbers by re-imposing mandates, cumulative deaths could reach 514,000 by the same date,” the IHME said in its latest forecast. “The fall/winter surge should lead to a daily death toll that is approximately three times higher than now by mid-January. Hospital systems, particularly ICUs, are expected to be under extreme stress in December and January in 18 states.”

The IHME said if states would require mask use or find other ways to encourage more people to use them, fewer people would die.

“Scaling up mask wearing can delay the need for further social distancing mandates and save 62,000 lives by February 1,” it said.

Some context: Just last week, the IHME projected 385,000 deaths by Feb. 1.

Cases and deaths have skyrocketed across the US in recent days and Thursday saw the highest single Covid-19 case count on record in the US, with cases passing 88,219 before 11:45 p.m. ET.

9:48 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Moderna and Pfizer might have Covid-19 vaccine results at same time, Fauci says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Moderna and Pfizer appear to be "neck and neck" in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine -- so much so that the United States could see critical safety and efficacy data for both companies' vaccine candidates around the same time, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Facebook Live session on Thursday. 

Currently, there are six Covid-19 vaccine candidates in the United States -- four of which are in Phase 3 trials, Fauci said, adding that Moderna and Pfizer are "neck and neck." 

"Pfizer and Moderna, both went into Phase 3 on July 27," Fauci told Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, during the Facebook Live session. 
"Close behind them is the AstraZeneca, and the Johnson or J & J or the Janssen trial -- and then we have the trial of Novavax and then ultimately we have Sanofi," Fauci said. "So we would likely, Francis, start seeing results from Moderna and Pfizer at approximately the same time."
9:55 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

US will cross 100,000 daily Covid-19 infections "at some point" in next couple of weeks, former FDA head says

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said he believes the United States will cross the 100,000 cases per day threshold sometime in the next couple of weeks -- or maybe even this week.

"We'll cross 100,000 infections at some point in the next couple of weeks, probably. We might do it this week, if all the states report on time," Gottlieb said. "We have to see if states like Florida and Texas actually report on Friday and Saturday, because we might get above 100,000 this week."

Gottlieb added that this is due to the public's behavior and lack of caution. 

"The reality is that I think we're not going to start to see a slowdown in the pandemic until you see consumer behavior change, and until you see mobility data start to decline. That's been the lesson of the past surges in the virus," Gottlieb said. 

9:23 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Europe tried a scalpel on the second wave. Now it's going back to the sledgehammer

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Europe's whack-a-mole strategy of imposing local lockdowns to squash the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic didn't work. Now it's time to pull out the big guns.

Germany and France both announced new four-week national lockdowns on Wednesday night. They followed the Czech Republic and Ireland, which put country-wide restrictions in place earlier this month. Spain and the United Kingdom could be next.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the local measures imposed on a number of major cities including Paris over the past few weeks were "not working anymore" and that a national lockdown was needed. Under the new rules, people will only be allowed to leave their homes to go to work or school, for a medical appointment, to care for a relative, to do essential shopping and to exercise. Non-essential businesses, restaurants and bars will be closed. Like in the spring, they will need a certificate to venture outside.

Macron's speech came just hours after Germany also gave up on local lockdowns, announcing a nationwide stay-at-home order starting next Monday after regional restrictions in major cities including Frankfurt, Berlin and Stuttgart and a partial lockdown in the state of Bavaria failed to slow down the spread of the virus.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said people residing in Germany are advised to stay home, avoid travel and "keep their contacts to an absolute minimum." Social contacts will be limited to two households in public.

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