China's Xinjiang province reports 10 new cases in latest cluster
From Eric Cheung in Hong Kong
China's far western Xinjiang region reported 10 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to the Xinjiang Municipal Health Commission.
The new cases include eight symptomatic cases and two asymptomatic cases, and were all reported in Shufu county in Kashgar city, the office said in a statement.
China keeps a separate count of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases and does not include asymptomatic carriers of the virus in the official tally of confirmed cases.
The latest figures follow a recent cluster in the region; on Tuesday, Shufu county alone reported 118 new cases, according to the Xinjiang Information Office.
The outbreak began in late October, when an asymptomatic case was identified in Kashgar, prompting the city to launch a citywide mass testing program for millions of residents.
As of Wednesday midnight, Xinjiang has reported 339 asymptomatic cases and 72 symptomatic cases since October.
10:48 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020
New Mexico orders meat plant to close after outbreak of cases
CNN’s Raja Razek and Andy Rose
The US state of New Mexico Department of Health has ordered the closure of Stampede Meat, Inc. in Sunland Park due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the plant.
A letter this week by Acting Cabinet Secretary Billy J. Jimenez said the meat plant "must immediately cease operations at this location through November 16, 2020."
The plant will be allowed to resume operations on November 17, the letter said.
It added that under the state's public health policy, the meat plant must "follow appropriate isolation, quarantine, and infection control protocols to mitigate potential Covid-19 transmission and limit risk to employees and the public."
10:14 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020
NFL’s Packers to continue "indefinite hold" on hosting fans at Lambeau Field amid high Covid-19 numbers
The Green Bay Packers announced Wednesday that the organization is “continuing the indefinite hold on hosting fans for games at Lambeau Field this season” because of high levels of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Green Bay area and across the state of Wisconsin.
"As evidenced by the sustained increase in cases in our community, we all need to work together to contain the virus," Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said. "Our players would love to have fans in the stands at Lambeau Field, but it is critical for the safety of our community that we all do whatever we can to stop the virus.
"It is important to note that public health officials have said we can make a difference relatively quickly by strict adherence to wearing masks, socially distancing and practicing proper hand hygiene. If the situation improves in the community and state, we'll be in position to safely welcome fans to games at Lambeau Field yet this season. "We also remind our fans, when watching our games, please limit the people with whom you cheer to your small circle of family or close friends."
The Packers say face masks will be installed on the Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi statues in front of the Lambeau Field Atrium on Thursday morning to encourage people to wear face masks.
9:25 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020
Kentucky mask mandate extended for 30 more days amid concerns of healthcare worker shortage
From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson and Jessica Flynn
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) issued an executive order renewing the mandate for face coverings for an additional 30 days, according to a press release from his office on Wednesday.
Beshear also extended previous executive orders that allow pharmacists to dispense emergency refills for up to 30 days, the release stated.
This comes as a state public health official raised concerns about not having enough healthcare workers to staff hospital beds.
Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said on Wednesday, “One of the concerns we have related to hospitals is not that we will first run out of bed space but that we may not have enough health care workers to staff all those beds.”
The southeastern US state has 1,066 people currently hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a press release from Behsear’s office.
There were 1,635 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday and 11 new deaths for a total of 1,514 deaths, the release stated. There are currently 286 people in the ICU with Covid-19 and 125 people currently on a ventilator, the release adds.
These numbers were released by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
8:23 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020
Australia secures 50 million more doses of Covid-19 vaccine, totaling 134 million
From Eric Cheung
Australia has secured another 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, bringing the country’s total purchase to more than 134 million doses, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in a press release on Thursday.
Forty million of the new doses will be supplied by Novavax, while Pfizer and BioNTech will supply 10 million doses, he said.
Australia has now secured access to a total of four Covid-19 vaccines, and the total amount of investment has reached more than AU$3.2 billion (US$2.3 billion), he said.
Prime Minister Morrison said investing in different vaccines will be crucial to ensure the country gains early access to a vaccine.
“We aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket and we will continue to pursue further vaccines should our medical experts recommend them,” he added.
Supply deals between countries and vaccine makers have so far favored developed countries and territories including Australia, the UK, US, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Switzerland and Israel, as well as the European Union.
Developing countries including India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico have also secured vaccine deals, but the Serum Institute of India (SII) recently predicted it will take four to five years for the vaccine to reach everyone around the globe.
7:51 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020
CDC director says testing strategy needed for "silent epidemic" of asymptomatic Covid-19 cases
From CNN Health’s Nadia Kounang
As the United States reported more than 600,000 new Covid-19 cases in a week for the first time ever, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield tweeted on Wednesday, “Now is the time to develop a testing strategy to maximize our ability to identify the silent epidemic of asymptomatic COVID-19 infections.”
Redfield’s tweet described a weekend meeting with fellow White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to discuss testing and mitigation efforts in Utah. On Tuesday, Utah was among 21 states that saw their peak seven-day average for new daily cases.
In a reply to CNN about Redfield’s comment, Dr. Thomas Tsai of the Harvard Global Health Institute wrote in an email, “The time to develop a national testing strategy to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 infections was a few months ago, but that ship has sailed. Now is the time to implement a testing strategy focused on screening of asymptomatic individuals.”
By the CDC’s estimate, 40% of people with Covid-19 are asymptomatic.
The CDC came under fire in August after the agency’s recommendation was changed to read: "If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one."
At the time, the change was heavily criticized by doctors and health agencies who worried the agency was influenced by the White House. In September, the agency’s site was updated again to say that anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has Covid-19 should be tested, even if they don’t have symptoms.
"Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection," it says, calling the change a clarification.
6:25 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020
Covid-19 hospitalizations are at an all-time high in Wyoming
From CNN's Kay Jones
Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 are at an all-time high in Wyoming, according to the state's dashboard, with 138 people hospitalized as of Wednesday afternoon.
The latest numbers released by the Wyoming Department of Health show that there are 12,675 total cases statewide, up 276 from Tuesday's report.
The state is also reporting a total of 105 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Separately, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon's office announced he would self-quarantine for up to two weeks because of possible exposure to the coronavirus earlier this week.
These numbers were released by the Wyoming Department of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
5:23 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020
The US reported its second-highest number of new Covid-19 cases on Election Day, with more than 91,000 infections
The country's five highest days of coronavirus cases have all been recorded since October 29, affirming experts' warnings that another surge is well underway and will only get worse.
The nationwide seven-day average of new daily cases now stands at about 86,363 -- more than double what it was on September 4, data from Johns Hopkins University show.
And while doctors have stressed basic public health measures like masks and social distancing can turn things around, such measures remain a point of contention in some parts of the US.
As of Tuesday, at least 36 states reported more new cases in the last week versus the week prior, Johns Hopkins data show. And six states -- Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- reported their highest one-day Covid-19 case counts Tuesday.
In Kentucky, where the governor has long cautioned that infections were climbing quickly, he said Tuesday that "every day, things appear to be getting worse."
"We are seeing not only a surge in the virus, but more and more of our kids by percentage who are getting it," Gov. Andy Beshear said.
Governor says El Paso County judge "illegally" shutdown businesses
From CNN’s Raja Razek
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego "illegally" shut down businesses in response to a rise in Covid-19 cases, in a statement to CNN.
"At a press conference on October 25, the county judge made clear that he had not been enforcing existing protocols allowed under law despite the fact that these protocols are effective strategies to contain Covid-19 while allowing businesses to safely open," read the statement.
The Office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced in a news release on Tuesday that the attorney general had filed a motion for a temporary injunction "to stop El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego's unlawful lockdown order, which flies in the face of Gov. Greg Abbott's executive orders on Covid-19."
"He failed to do his job and is now illegally shutting down entire businesses which will cause further harm to El Pasoans who are already suffering economically due to the pandemic," Abbott said Wednesday.
"These protocols proved effective to slow the spread over the summer and will work now, but only if they are enforced," added the statement.