August 31 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, September 1, 2020
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2:39 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

West Virginia reports 138 new Covid-19 cases at correctional facility as cases rise in the state

From CNN’s Nakia McNabb

Officials in West Virginia are reporting rising Covid-19 numbers in several parts of the state, including more than 100 cases at a corrections complex. 

Gov. Jim Justice announced 138 new Covid-19 cases at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex. 

“Mount Olive continues to be quarantined and medically isolating inmates as necessary. At South Central Regional Jail, there are eight active cases and two staff cases,” said Justice.

West Virginia long term care facilities are also seeing a rise in Covid-19 cases with 36 new outbreaks. 

Gov. Justice addressed the rising number of cases in Logan, Kanawha and Monroe Counties, citing at least 12 additional deaths as of Friday, bringing the state total to 214. 

In order to mitigate the rising number of cases in these three counties and to avoid further spread during the return to school next week, the governor announced widespread testing for all students and faculty in the school system’s sports program. All athletes, coaches and band members will be tested before the start of the season.

“There is no person out there in one of these counties that wants our kids out on the field playing a game with kids that have tested positive. So in this situation without a question it will assist us in every way. If we have a team or kids on the team that test positive we can't play. And we shouldn't play. That's all there is to it, same way as the band, same way as volleyball” said Justice.
2:09 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

Biden brings up coronavirus death toll in campaign speech: "Do you really feel safer under Trump?"

Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden. Source: Pool

Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden pointed to the US's coronavirus death toll during a speech in which he asked Americans if they "feel safer under Trump."

The US surpassed six million cases of coronavirus today. More than 183,000 people have died in the US since the pandemic began, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

"More than 180,000 lives in just six months. An average of 1,000 people dying every day in the month of August. Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?" Biden asked during a speech in Pittsburgh.

He went on to address Trump directly.

"Mr. Trump, you want to talk about fear?" Biden asked. "Do you know what people are afraid of in America? They're afraid they're going to get Covid. They're afraid they're going to get sick and die and that is in no small part, because of you."

"Do you really feel safer under Trump?" Biden asked again.

1:43 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

High percentage of frontline healthcare workers who have Covid-19 may not know they have it

From CNN Health’s Andrea Kane

Many frontline health care workers who care for Covid-19 patients may be infected and not even know it, researchers led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. And because the infections are undetected, they can potentially be spread to patients, coworkers, and others in the community.

Their survey of more than 3,200 health workers found 6% had antibodies to coronavirus, indicating they had been infected with the virus. But 69% of them had never been diagnosed with such an infection, 44% did not believe they had ever been infected and 29% said they never had any symptoms.

“A high proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections among healthcare personnel appear to go undetected,” the team at academic medical centers across the country, including the CDC Covid-19 Response Team, wrote in the CDC’s weekly report.

“Consistent with persons in the general population with SARS-CoV-2 infection, many frontline HCP [health care personnel] with SARS-CoV-2 infection might be asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic during infection, and infection might be unrecognized, " they continued.

More on the study: The researchers analyzed blood samples taken between April 3 and June 19 from 3,248 frontline health care workers at 13 academic medical centers across the country. The samples were tested for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and participants were asked about potential symptoms of Covid-19, previous testing for a coronavirus infection, and their use of personal protective equipment in the week prior.

Participants who reported always wearing a face covering — a surgical mask, N95 respirator, or powered air purifying respirator — while caring for patients had lower infection rates compared with those who did not.

But personal protective equipment wasn’t always available. In eight of the 13 medical centers, more than 10% of participants reported a PPE shortage. Shortages of N95 respirators were those most commonly reported —5% of those surveyed said there was a shortage where they worked.

“A higher percentage of participants who reported a PPE shortage had detectable SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (9%) than did those who did not report a PPE shortage (6%),” the researchers wrote. “A high proportion of personnel with antibodies did not suspect that they had been previously infected.”

Requiring face coverings, having teams dedicated exclusively to caring for patients with coronavirus, better screening and testing might all help, the team concluded. 

1:52 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

Canadian Prime Minister says he will not rush vaccine approval

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, waits to speak at the National Research Council of Canada Royalmount Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre facility in Montreal on Monday, Aug. 31.
Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, waits to speak at the National Research Council of Canada Royalmount Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre facility in Montreal on Monday, Aug. 31. Andrej Ivanov/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will not give in to pressure and rush vaccine approval, despite what some other countries are doing. 

“Canada will always put the safety of Canadians first and foremost and that’s true on vaccines on it is on everything else,” said Trudeau during a press conference Monday in Montreal. 

Trudeau pointed out that the Canadian government has been under pressure for months to approve testing methods and therapeutic drugs on a more rapid timetable but that Health Canada has refused to do so citing safety and efficacy concerns. 

“We will not see testing protocols approved until they are safe for Canadians. We will not move forward on a vaccine until we are confident it is safe for Canadians. Other countries will make their own decisions and have already in regards to testing,” he said. 

Some more context: Monday the Canadian government announced new agreements with Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, adding to agreements with Pfizer and Moderna to reserve millions of doses of experimental COVID‑19 vaccines. Canadian officials say they are in negotiations to secure other vaccines so that a ‘diverse portfolio’ of vaccine candidates is developed over the next few months. 

Canadian officials say they do not expect a viable vaccine to be distributed until early next year at the earliest. 

Trudeau also announced nearly $100 million in funding for a new biomanufacturing facility in Montreal in order to increase vaccine manufacturing to about 2 million doses per month by next year. This is intended to help Canada to domestically produce enough doses of an eventual vaccine. 

1:27 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

NY lawmakers want bills passed to allow mail-in ballot drop boxes during pandemic

From CNN's Ganesh Setty

During a news conference with other community leaders on Monday, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried called for the passage of their two bills that would allow the state board of elections to introduce mail-in ballot drop boxes amid the pandemic and ongoing postal service delays. 

“New Yorkers deserve to have confidence in the integrity of our elections and know their vote has been counted,” said Hoylman. “Now we have a federal administration that is openly hostile to the postal office and openly hostile to expanding voting rights, and working to dismantle this institution.”

“Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Donald Trump has tried for years to undermine our elections with false claims about voter fraud,” he continued. 

Hoylman pushed for the state to pass the bills as soon as possible to avoid the same fate of New York’s June primary, pointing to the more than 84,000 absentee ballots that were invalidated in New York City. They accounted for 21% of the all ballots received by the city’s board of elections, said the senator. 

He called on the legislature to either convene to pass the bill, or have Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorize the ballot drop-boxes via executive order. 

On Aug. 20, Gov. Cuomo signed a package of election reforms that would allow voters to both request an absentee ballot due to Covid-19 and have ballots postmarked on election day be counted by the state board of elections.  

So far, 33 states along with Washington, DC, have authorized the use of ballot drop-boxes, said Hoylman. 

The ballot box prototype unveiled Monday would be monitored by either local law enforcement or election officials and would include a tamper-proof seal, he explained. 

Each one would cost around $6,000 and serve every 15 to 20 thousand registered voters, said Hoylman, which would amount to 650-865 boxes in NY for a total cost of four to five million dollars. 

The boxes could be placed in high-traffic areas including libraries, schools, and possibly even near ATM machines, he said. 

“What is the cost in not assuring voters that their ballot is going to be counted in November,” he asked. 

According to the state senate and assembly websites, both bills are still in committee. 

1:28 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

More than 183,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Asare Amaya,10 mourns for her father, German Amaya as family and friends are seen via a Zoom broadcast as they mourn together during the wake ceremony at the Maspons Funeral Home on August 8 in Miami, Florida.
Asare Amaya,10 mourns for her father, German Amaya as family and friends are seen via a Zoom broadcast as they mourn together during the wake ceremony at the Maspons Funeral Home on August 8 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There are at least 6,006,327 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 183,221 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

So far on Monday, Johns Hopkins has reported 9,896 new cases and 155 deaths.

2:51 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

Dozens of students suspended as coronavirus outbreak emerges at New York college, chancellor says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

State University of New York College at Oneonta.
State University of New York College at Oneonta. CNY Collection/Alamy

A large party is suspected as the origin for a coronavirus outbreak at New York's SUNY Oneonta, which has led to a halt on in-person classes for at least two weeks.

Dozens of students have been suspended for violating the code of conduct, chancellor Jim Malatras told CNN's John King.

“Socializing is great, but we have to do this differently. We have to control this virus. And I’m going to keep reinforcing that but also enforcing discipline because we can't have this get out of control across the state,” he said.

“We noticed that there was a large party early last week. It resulted in several Covid cases. Twenty Covid cases became 105 cases. We stepped in immediately,” Malatras said, adding that SUNY’s upstate medical facility is doing 75,000 tests a week through the SUNY system.

The outbreak shows that the pandemic is not over yet, Malatras added.

“Covid still exists. We can't rest on our laurels to say we're out of the woods. This, I hope, serves as a wake-up call that one party can lead to more than a hundred cases,” he said.

It’s day one on the job for Malatras, who previously worked on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s panel of advisers to combat the coronavirus crisis. Cuomo will send in a team of 70 contact tracers and eight case investigators in an attempt to contain the outbreak.

To reinforce the messaging and discipline on campus, Malatras said he will focus on how everyone plays a role in this pandemic.

“Individual responsibility for the greater collective good. One individual's action can impact everyone on our college community,” he said. “We have to instill in people that it's not just your actions. Your actions have consequences on everyone else. It could impact our faculty and get them sick. It can impact the student body population so we're going to keep reinforcing that message.”
12:58 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

New York state asking Congress for federal funding

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, in New York City.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, in New York City. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with several unions, is sending a letter to the New York congressional delegation today pleading for federal funding to address budget shortfalls.

“There is no way that the states and the local governments can cover the deficit. There is no combination of savings, efficiencies, tax increases that could ever come near covering the deficit,” said Cuomo Monday.

Among the budget shortfalls is $30 billion for New York state and $9 billion for New York City.  

12:18 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

Florida reports lowest number of daily new coronavirus cases since June 15

From CNN's Tina Burnside, Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt 

The state of Florida is reporting 1,885 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, marking the lowest single day infections since June 15, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health. 

On June 15, the state recorded 1,758 coronavirus cases. 

To date, there are 623,471 total Covid-19 cases statewide, with 68 additional deaths bringing the total number of deaths to 11,187, according to the department of health.