Published On: Tue, Oct 20th, 2020

Coronavirus cases surge in the U.S.


 

42 virus cases linked to Maine church event

At least 42 coronavirus cases have been linked to a church in Brooks, Maine, that held indoor services with 70-100 people who attended. The church also held a multiday “fellowship gathering” with nearby churches that involved up to 150 people.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is now investigating the outbreak at Brooks Pentecostal Church and its affiliated school, Lighthouse Christian Academy, in Waldo County. The number of confirmed cases linked to the church have risen to 42 on Tuesday, from just 17 associated cases on Saturday.

Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine CDC, called the outbreak “quickly evolving” during a news conference on Tuesday, adding that he expects the number of cases associated with the church to increase in the coming days, “perhaps significantly.” 

Read more here.

 

New Jersey sees spike in COVID-19 cases

With an average of 900 new positive coronavirus cases a day, New Jersey is seeing a worrying spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Health officials in the state have called the increased cases a source of “widespread community spread,” most driven by indoor gatherings. 

Since March 4, New Jersey has reported 221,205 positive cases, according to state health officials. The statewide rate of transmission remains at 1.14. At least 758 patients remain hospitalized. 

“Many of the new cases we are tracking are coming not from our schools or businesses, or many other activities, but from private gatherings inside private homes,” New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy said in a news conference on Monday. “Especially as the cooler weather pulls more of us back inside we have to remain extra vigilant.”

Residents are being urged to refrain from traveling out of state, except when necessary. With an average of 10 cases per 100,000 residents, New Jersey now qualifies to be included in New York state’s travel advisory. As of Tuesday, 38 states remained on the list. 

 

Only 28 positive virus tests in New York City schools

Out of 16,000 tests from New York City schools, only 28 have come back positive, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

The news marks a .17% positive rating across all schools and is compiled from the most recent data from New York City’s mandatory testing program. The city conducts tests in 377 schools every month.

De Blasio, in a news conference Tuesday, called the results “amazing.”

“The proof is in the results, and these are amazing results,” said de Blasio. “[A low rate] bodes well for the future of our schools and our ability to fight and overcome this disease.” 

Tuesday also marked Governor Andrew Cuomo’s closure of schools in nine coronavirus hot spots in New York. Before closures, the neighborhoods saw positive test rates over 3% for at least seven days. 

Cuomo has closed the schools by zip code but has not ruled out expanding the borders of the shutdown if more cases begin to trend upward. 

 

Arkansas exceeds 100,000 COVID-19 cases

Arkansas has surpassed 100,000 positive coronavirus cases, according to a new report from state health officials. The state on Tuesday reported 840 confirmed cases and an additional 14 deaths.

“That is a milestone, I know, that everyone will note as being a remarkable, large number and I did want to note that passing of the 100,000-mark regrettably today,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a news conference Tuesday.

Arkansas has reported 1,576 deaths from the virus. There are currently 637 residents hospitalized with the virus across the state. 

 

McConnell urged White House not to make a deal on stimulus bill ahead of election

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Republicans Tuesday that he urged the White House against making a deal on a large coronavirus stimulus bill ahead of the election, a source familiar confirmed to CBS News.

McConnell publicly said on Tuesday that he would bring a “presidentially-supported bill” to the Senate floor for a vote “at some point.” His main focus in the final two weeks before Election Day is on confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court justice.

“If a presidentially-supported bill clears the House, at some point we’ll bring to the floor,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday.

McConnell’s position could kill any hope of a stimulus bill passing before the election, despite the continued efforts of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to reach a deal. Pelosi and Mnuchin have continued negotiations over a relief bill after Pelosi had set a Tuesday deadline to reach a deal on legislation that could be passed in Congress ahead of the election.

Pelosi and Mnuchin were scheduled to speak by phone on Tuesday afternoon. The speaker said earlier in the day that she believed “we’re on a path” to achieving a deal.

“We’re on a path, and you have to be optimistic,” Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “As the secretary and I say to each other, ‘If we didn’t believe we could get this done, why would we even be talking?'”

Read more here.

 

University of Michigan students ordered to “stay in place”

Students attending the University of Michigan have been ordered to “stay in place” for two weeks after county health officials said more than 1,000 students tested positive for COVID-19, which makes up 61% of all cases in Washtenaw County. As of October 19, there are currently 4,229 cases there.

The county’s health department said current evidence suggests activity around the Ann Arbor campus “is driven by social gatherings that do not adhere” to state and county’s public health orders.

The “stay in place” order will be active until November 3 and will require all undergraduate students to remain at their designated residences. Students will still be allowed to attend in-person classes, vote, attend medical appointments, religious activities and be tested for COVID-19, but will not be allowed to leave for outdoor physical activity in groups larger than two people.

The University of Michigan will continue contract tracing during the stay in place order and will extend the order with more restrictive measures if rates continue to rise. 

“Today, the Washtenaw County Health Department, in collaboration with the university, issued a 14-day Stay in Place order for our undergraduate students, which goes into effect immediately,” the university’s president, Mark Schlissel, said in a statement to students. “We fully support this action, as it enhances protections for our students and the welfare of our community. We also are implementing steps beyond the order out of an abundance of caution and to provide choices for students and instructors, including moving more of our undergraduate courses to fully remote instruction.”

University of Michigan
An outside view of the campus at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on March 24, 2015.

Robert Nickelsberg / Getty


 

Disneyland and Universal Studios get strict reopening guidelines

Theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood will have to wait until their counties reach the least restrictive yellow tier, under California’s new guidelines released Tuesday.

Major theme parks will only be allowed to reopen in the yellow tier, and even then, with only 25% capacity and other health restrictions. Smaller theme parks will be able to open outdoor attractions if and when their home counties reach the orange, or third, tier of the reopening roadmap.

New guidelines were also issued for sporting events at outdoor stadiums. Some sports can resume once their county moves into the orange tier, but capacity will be limited to 20%. Once a county improves to the yellow tier, capacity can go up to 25%.

Ticket sales at these venues will be restricted to customers within a 120-mile radius, and must be purchased in advance. Venues will not be allowed to sell tickets on the day of an event, and eating and drinking must be done in assigned seats. Masks will be required when not eating or drinking, and tailgating at sports events will not be allowed.

Read more here.


California’s reopening rules for theme parks

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Oklahoma hospitalizations reach record high

The number of people hospitalized in Oklahoma with the coronavirus reached a record high: 821.

The number reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday is 28 more than the previous record of 793 recorded on Friday.

Governor Kevin Stitt plans to discuss hospital capacity in the state. The health department reported an additional 1,475 cases and 18 deaths. There’s been a total of 109,548 confirmed cases and 1,191 deaths in Oklahoma.

 

Head of New Jersey hospital on second wave: ‘This is about to get worse”

New Jersey on Tuesday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases. It’s the third day in a row that number has surpassed 1,000 as hospitalizations increase and more schools are delaying reopenings, CBS New York reported.

“This is not something we didn’t expect. We expected a second wave to happen in the fall, but the question is how bad it gets. That means peak, and how quickly we get to that peak,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO of Newark’s University Hospital. 

The hospital is already nearly at capacity with non-COVID patients, and now virus hospitalizations are increasing again, Elnahal said. 

“Signs are pointing that this is about to get worse,” Elnahal said. “When you start to hit levels of 3 or 4% positivity, you can expect even more admissions. And most concerningly, John, we did have one COVID-19 death last week for the first time in many weeks.”

Read more at CBS New York

 

U.S. billionaires gained almost $1 trillion in wealth during the pandemic

The nation’s 644 billionaires have enjoyed a staggering rise in wealth since the pandemic shuttered the economy in March, with the group gaining almost $1 trillion in total net worth, according to a new analysis. The spike in wealth coincides with what some economists are calling a K-shaped recovery, with the rich regaining their footing while poorer Americans struggle with lost wages and jobs.

The wealth of the nation’s billionaires rose to $3.88 trillion as of October 13, a jump of $931 billion from March, the analysis found. Total wealth for U.S. billionaires is also almost twice the $2.1 trillion in wealth held by the bottom half of the U.S. population, or about 165 million people, they added.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has enjoyed the biggest bump to his personal fortune, according to the analysis from Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, two left-leaning groups. Bezos’ wealth has jumped by $90.1 billion to $203.1 billion from March 18 through October 13, bolstered by a rise in his company’s stock price as Americans turned en masse to Amazon and other e-commerce players for their consumer spending during the pandemic. Amazon.com shares reached a record of more than $3,500 a share in September.

Read more here.

 

New York updates list of restricted states

New York has added several states and territories to its travel restriction list as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the country, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday. People who are traveling to New York from the restricted areas are required to quarantine for 14 days. 

“We are now in a situation where 43 states meet the criteria for our travel advisory. This is really a bizarre outcome, considering New York once had the highest infection rate,” Cuomo said in a statement. 

“There is no practical way to quarantine New York from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. There are just too many interchanges, interconnections, and people who live in one place and work in the other. It would have a disastrous effect on the economy, and remember while we’re fighting this public health pandemic we’re also fighting to open up the economy. However, to the extent travel between the states is not essential, it should be avoided.” 

Here’s the updated list of restricted states and territories:

  • Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming
 

British PM to impose highest level of restrictions on Manchester

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’ll impose the highest level of coronavirus restrictions on the Greater Manchester region, after no deal was reached on a financial package.

Johnson says action was needed to protect the lives of Manchester’s residents and the region’s health care system. The Tier 3 measures mean pubs and businesses must close and people in England’s second-largest city are banned from socializing with other households.

Leaders of the Greater Manchester region have resisted the tough restrictions for days, saying local businesses forced to close would need more financial support from the government. Mayor Andy Burnham says he asked for an aid package, but the government walked away from the talks.

 

CDC now “strongly recommends” masks on public transit

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance on Monday saying it “strongly recommends appropriate masks be worn by all passengers and by all personnel” operating public transport across the country, including in stations, terminals and airports, to help slow spiraling coronavirus infections.

The Trump administration has thus far declined to issue any national mandate on face coverings, opting to leave such rules to state and local leaders to determine. The president himself has said he wears a mask “when needed,” but he’s disparaged other politicians and journalists for wearing masks, mocking one reporter during a White House news conference as “politically correct” for his decision not to remove his mask to ask a question.

Issuing its new “interim guidance” note on Monday, the CDC called masks “one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission,” and said well-fitted face coverings “are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. Wide use of masks especially helps protect those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in airports, seaports or other docks, bus terminals, and train stations).”

Read more here.

 

Massachusetts governor discusses vaccine distribution plan

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said Tuesday the state is developing a plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. The plan lays out the initial steps for a “robust, comprehensive and equitable” vaccine distribution system once one or more vaccines become available.

Officials anticipate limited supply in the early phase and plan to prioritize some health care workers, people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 – including people with underlying medical conditions and those older than 65 – and other essential workers, Baker said.

“The plan also outlines our messaging efforts to make sure people know once there is a vaccine available, that it has been approved by the federal government and is safe and effective,” he said.

“We’ll also make it a priority to reach out specifically to groups that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including people and communities of color.”

Baker called it an interim plan “that will probably change as more information becomes available.”

Massachusetts is among the states that has recently seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases. As of mid-last week, a total of 63 communities in the state, including Boston, were considered high risk for virus infections, up from 40 a week before. The designation is based on average daily cases per 100,000 residents, CBS Boston reported. 

 

8 NFL players test positive for COVID-19

The NFL announced Tuesday that 8 players and 11 new personnel tested positive for coronavirus between October 11  and October 17. 

Through this testing period, the NFL administered 38,880 tests to players and team personnel, receiving 19 positive tests in total. In accordance with health and safety regulations, the NFL tests players and some personnel daily, while others are tested weekly. Those who have tested positive have been isolated and barred from team contact and access to facilities, but are in communication with club medical staff, the league and player’s union said in a joint statement.

The NFL did not say which teams or players had positive test results. 

The NFL has not announced which teams contained positive tests or the names of players and personnel. Since August 1, 47 players have tested positive, along with 71 other personnel, although only several games have been postponed or rescheduled. 

NFL logo
The NFL logo is seen on a goal post at Soldier Field in Chicago on September 20, 2020.

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty


 

Melania Trump stays off campaign trail Tuesday, citing lingering cough

First Lady Melania Trump was scheduled to travel with President Trump to a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, Tuesday but is now staying home due to a lingering cough from her bout with COVID-19.

Her chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, said the first lady continues to improve. Mrs. Trump has tested negative for the virus after contracting it along with the president and their son, Barron.

“Mrs. Trump continues to feel better every day following her recovery from COVID-19, but with a lingering cough, and out of an abundance of caution, she will not be traveling today,” Grisham said.

Read more here.

 

U.K. plans to infect healthy volunteers in new vaccine trial

U.K.-based researchers have planned a series of challenge vaccine trials in an attempt to speed up the production of a COVID-19 vaccine. The trials involve infecting healthy volunteers who have not exhibited symptoms of the virus, between the ages of 18-30, with a live version of the virus. These types of vaccine trials are uncommon because some consider them unethical. 

The trials are a partnership between Imperial College London, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), hVIVO, a company familiar with viral human challenge models, and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. 

“Human challenge studies can increase our understanding of COVID-19 in unique ways and accelerate development of the many potential new COVID-19 treatments and vaccines,” lead researcher Dr. David Chui said in a statement

“Our number one priority is the safety of the volunteers. My team has been safely running human challenge studies with other respiratory viruses for over 10 years. No study is completely risk free, but the Human Challenge Programme partners will be working hard to ensure we make the risks as low as we possibly can.”

The study will be reviewed by an ethics committee and regulators before volunteers are enrolled. 

 

More than 220,000 have died in the U.S.

More than 220,400 people have died from coronavirus in America, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The death toll comes amid a fall surge of virus cases across the nation. As of Tuesday, over 8.2 million people have been sickened by the virus in the U.S. 

 

Surge in coronavirus cases puts strain on Wisconsin hospitals

Health experts are warning the months ahead will be some of the hardest of the coronavirus pandemic. It comes as the U.S. climbs towards a third peak, and nowhere is it more true than in Wisconsin, which has emerged as the country’s hot spot. The state is setting records for new cases, hospital admissions and deaths.

At UW Hospital in Madison, COVID-19 hospitalizations have almost doubled since the start of October. Nurse Katie Lanoway said it happened almost overnight.

“I’m really frustrated. It is scary because you don’t want to take that home to people you care about,” Lanoway told CBS News. “We really need help here in the hospital from people outside, to start wearing the mask and staying away from people.”

One COVID-19 unit used to be limited to one hallway, which has about 10 patient rooms, and now they’ve had to expand to three hallways because of the surge.

Dr. Jeff Pothoff, UW Health’s chief quality officer, works on a medivac team that has airlifted several coronavirus patients. “They thought they were going to be OK, and then all of a sudden, they end up here. There’s some regret,” Pothoff said. “At that point, it’s too late. There isn’t a do-over.”


Soaring COVID-19 cases overwhelm Wisconsin ho…

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Read more from the “CBS Evening News” here.



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