November 4 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Steve George, Zamira Rahim, Lauren Kent, Ed Upright, Rob Picheta and Hira Humayun, CNN

Updated 1:01 AM ET, Thu November 5, 2020
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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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield appears at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 16.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield appears at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 16. Andrew Harnik/AP

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

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

The US recorded 91,530 new Covid-19 infections on the day many Americans cast their ballots, adding to a series of staggering case numbers reported within just the past week.

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.

His words follow an alarming new report about Covid-19 case counts impacting children around the country at "unprecedented levels." The last week of October saw the highest one-week count of new juvenile infections so far, the report said.

Read more here.

5:00 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020

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. 

4:30 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020

Four regions in Italy will become coronavirus "red zones"

From CNN’s Livia Borghese

A waiter prepares to close a cafe in downtown Turin, on October 26, 2020, as the country faces a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
A waiter prepares to close a cafe in downtown Turin, on October 26, 2020, as the country faces a second wave of Covid-19 infections. Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images

Four Italian regions will become coronavirus "red zones" on Friday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Wednesday.

The regions of Calabria, Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta will be placed under the country's harshest restrictive measures in its new "traffic light" system to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The region of Puglia and the island of Sicily will become "orange zones," while the rest of the country becomes "yellow zones" (the lowest-risk zone).

"Yellow zones" are subject to new national measures that include a stay-at-home order from 10pm to 5am local time. In these zones, public transport can only operate at 50% capacity, museums and exhibition centers must close, and masks must be used in school by all students over the age of six. Restaurants and bars can remain open until 6pm, after which they can only provide take away or delivery services.

In "orange zones" people will also be banned from leaving their town and their region -- except for work or health reasons -- and bars and restaurants will only be able to do delivery and take-away service.

In the "red zones," Conte said people are not allowed to leave their houses except for work or health reasons. All the above national and orange rules apply, in addition to all non-essential shops being closed.

The new rules will go into effect on November 6 and will last until December 3.

“It’s not a discretionary decision,” Conte said referring to the color assigned to the regions. The three different levels of risk across the country are based on the virus transmission rate, the number of available intensive care beds and the testing capacity. They will be assessed every 14 days.

“If the risk lowers, less restrictive measures will be applied,” Conte said. “As we all wish,” he added.

There could be some exceptions inside the "red zones" for specific areas that are less affected by the pandemic.

“To freeze the surge of the contagion,” Conte said, “we have no alternatives; we must face these restrictions.”

“We understand the discomfort, the frustration, the psychological suffering, but we have to resist,” he added.

6:03 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020

Eight NFL players test positive for Covid-19 in latest round of testing

The National Football League and NFL Players Association report eight players have tested positive for Covid-19 during the latest round of league-wide testing. The October 25 through October 31 testing window revealed 17 confirmed positive tests among personnel as well as the eight players, out of 7,884 individuals tested.

"Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 follow the joint NFL-NFLPA Treatment Protocol. They are immediately isolated, not permitted access club facilities, or have direct contact with players or personnel. Club medical staff are in regular communication with individuals who test positive to monitor symptoms," the NFL and NFLPA said in a press release.

Since testing began on August 1, 63 players and 99 other personnel have tested positive for the virus. 

4:19 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020

France hits highest rate of ICU patients since April

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris

A nurse tends to a patient in an intensive care unit set up for those infected with the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Europe in Le Port-Marly, near Paris on November 4, 2020.
A nurse tends to a patient in an intensive care unit set up for those infected with the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Europe in Le Port-Marly, near Paris on November 4, 2020. Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

There are now 4,080 Covid-19 patients being treated in intensive care in France -- a jump of 211 people on the previous day’s figures -- according to data from the country’s health authority.

The last time the number of patients in ICU for Covid-19 was this high was in late April.

In total, there are 27,511 Covid-19 patients in hospital -- a jump of 1,269.

The number of Covid-19 cases has increased by 40,455, according to the health authority.

5:44 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020

Spain adds more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths after re-examining data

From CNN’s Tim Lister

A healthcare worker wearing protective gear uses a mobile phone at the 12 de Octubre hospital in Madrid, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, on October 28, 2020.
A healthcare worker wearing protective gear uses a mobile phone at the 12 de Octubre hospital in Madrid, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, on October 28, 2020. Oscar Del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

Spanish health authorities have adjusted the number of historic cases of the coronavirus, as well as deaths from the virus, after recalculating data from early in the pandemic.

The Health Ministry said that "5,105 cases and 1,326 deaths diagnosed before May 11 have been incorporated into the analysis," after establishing that data prior to May 11 was reported without adequate precision.

At the same time, 15,056 hospitalizations had been eliminated from the cumulative total.

The data released Wednesday show Spain has had a cumulative 1,284,408 cases of the coronavirus, with 248,653 new cases registered in the last two weeks.

After the statistical adjustment, the number of deaths now stands at 38,118 -- of which 888 have occurred in the last week.

3:16 p.m. ET, November 4, 2020

Cambodian PM self-quarantines after meeting with Hungarian FM who tested positive for Covid-19

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, left, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia,  Szijjarto tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Thailand for an official visit, Thai and Hungarian officials said Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, left, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Szijjarto tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Thailand for an official visit, Thai and Hungarian officials said Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Pool/AP

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Wednesday that he is self-quarantined despite testing negative for Covid-19, after meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, according to state news agency Agence Kampuchea Press (AKP).

Szijjarto visited Cambodia on Tuesday and met with several government officials, including the country's prime minister. He then tested positive with coronavirus upon his arrival to Thailand's capital, Bangkok, after he left Cambodia, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade told CNN on Wednesday. 

In a Facebook post, the Prime Minister said doctors tested those who had contact with the Hungarian delegation visiting Cambodia on Tuesday after receiving the news about the Hungarian Foreign Minister testing positive for the virus in Thailand after leaving Cambodia, AKP reported.

"The test result of me and my wife, the bodyguards, the drivers -- 18 persons in total -- shows that no one was infected with COVID-19," state news quoted the Prime Minister. "Anyway, for the safety of all, the doctors required me to be in quarantine for 14 days, and not to meet anyone, even my wife, my children and my grandchildren."

The Prime Minister also announced the postponement of upcoming events like "welcoming the return of Their Majesties the King and Queen-Mother from medical checkup in China," AKP reported.

He said that despite the 14-day quarantine, he will still perform his duties as usual from his residence, AKP said in its report.

Szijjarto has also cancelled all events in Thailand and is on his way back home in a private jet after "brief visit" to the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National News Bureau of Thailand said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.