September 2 coronavirus news

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12:40 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Nearly 570,000 health care workers across the Americas have had Covid-19, PAHO says

From CNN’s Tim Lister

Medics prepares to transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, on July 30.
Medics prepares to transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, on July 30. Chanda Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

The Pan American Health Organization says that almost 570,000 health care workers in the Americas have contracted coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, with health care workers in the US and Mexico making up one-in-seven of all cases reported in those countries.

The majority of those infected were in the 30 to 49 age group.

At PAHO's weekly briefing, Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said that more than 140,000 workers in the healthcare sector in the US had become sick with Covid-19 — of whom 660 had died.

In Brazil almost 270,000 workers in health care had tested positive for Covid-19. She said that health workers were "becoming infected at an alarming rate."

Etienne added that when the pandemic broke out many health workers were redirected to help without sufficient training to protect themselves. In many hospitals Covid-19 patients were exposed to others who had different conditions, leaving health workers more vulnerable. This was especially the case, she said, when supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) were running low and workers had to re-use masks and gowns.

Etienne said the Americas region now have 13.5 million Covid-19 cases and almost 469,000 deaths from the virus. She noted that after months of unrelenting spread, cases were stabilizing in the United States and Brazil — but the two countries continued to report more new cases than any other nation.

Etienne said that Caribbean states were seeing a surge in the virus, with nearly half of all reported cases in the Bahamas being reported in the last two weeks. But she said most countries in Latin America had seen the number of new cases drop over the last week. In particular, Chile and Uruguay had managed to "flatten their curve" of infection.

At its briefing PAHO also asked the United States to reconsider its decision not to take part in the COVAX initiative, which is designed to enable poorer and smaller countries to gain access to a vaccine. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization. Its aim is to "accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access," according to the WHO.

PAHO said more than 170 countries had signed up to the program. In June, the US government announced it was cutting funding to the WHO.

 

12:28 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Miami University in Ohio reports a more than 100% increase in Covid-19 cases compared to previous week

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Miami University in Ohio reported at least 249 cases of Covid-19 among students at the start of this week, an increase of more than 100% from the previous week.

The school is now reporting a total of 529 cases among students and employees, according to the university dashboard.

As has been a trend with numerous colleges, many of the cases reported are among students living off campus. Miami University has begun classes remotely — but in person classes won’t start until the end of the month.

“During the past few days, we and many other universities are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly for students living off-campus, which must be reduced,” university President Gregory Crawford wrote in a statement.

The school also announced it would require all students to be tested before they move into residence halls later this month.

Read a portion of the letter from the university president:

Dear Miami University Community:
Late in July, we announced that we would begin classes remotely on August 17 but delay in-person and hybrid delivery of classes until September 21. To support this date, we plan to begin a phased move into residence halls on September 14 in a manner which limits the number of people moving in at any one time.
During the past few days, we and many other universities are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly for students living off-campus, which must be reduced.
This is a very critical week. It is vital for us in Oxford to achieve a downward trend in positive cases in our off-campus community before our planned in-person start.
We must all follow the Healthy Together strategies. We continue to work collaboratively with our partners in the City of Oxford, Butler County General Health District, Ohio Department of Health, TriHealth, and community members to understand our local situation related to COVID-19 and its spread and impact on our community.
1:01 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

College freshman says quarantine is a "pretty cool" and "unique" experience

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Nicko Henderson, a freshman at Baylor University in Texas.
Nicko Henderson, a freshman at Baylor University in Texas. Source: CNN

Nicko Henderson, a freshman at Baylor University in Texas, is on his last day of mandated quarantine after there were several cases of coronavirus in his dorm hall.  

“Honestly, it’s been pretty cool. It’s kind of a unique experience, and it’s different from anything I’ve ever done,” Henderson, who does not have Covid-19, told CNN’s John King.

He said he and his roommate are brought meals three times a day, and they are only allowed to leave to use the bathroom and get water. Henderson said he is doing a lot of schoolwork while in his room. 

There have been more than 25,000 coronavirus cases in 37 states reported at colleges and universities across the US. 

Henderson commended Baylor’s efforts to “attack this head-on.” He said the school made many preparations before students got to campus, including tent spaces for learning, social distancing protocols and enforcing masks. 

Watch:

12:11 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Auburn University reported more than 500 Covid-19 cases last week

From CNN’s Angela Barajas

Auburn University.
Auburn University. Shutterstock

Auburn University is reporting 517 Covid-19 positive cases among students and staff across its campuses between Aug. 22 and Aug. 28. The main campus is reporting 498 in total among students and staff. No hospitalizations have been reported.  

Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, said the spike was expected. He had initially estimated the number of positive cases to be closer to 700. 

"These are relatively young healthy people, and they are going to socialize. They've done that, they've gone from, you know, two to three weeks of them interacting with each other and not always taken all the preventive measures, something that we keep pushing and educating about, but it's a challenge," Dr. Kam said.

According to data published by Auburn, the stats are based on individuals who self-reported their positive results. 

11:43 a.m. ET, September 2, 2020

New York has reported an infection rate under 1% for 26 days

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York remains under a 1% coronavirus infection rate for its 26th day, the Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today, adding that there were 5 Covid-19-related deaths reported across the state. 

The additional 708 cases in the state bring its total to at least 436,218, the governor added.

Remember: These numbers were released by the state’s public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database, which is drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

11:27 a.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Common steroids reduce deaths among critically ill Covid-19 patients, new analysis confirms

From CNN's John Bonifield and Naomi Thomas

New research released on Wednesday confirms that common, affordable steroids can reduce deaths among critically ill Covid-19 patients.

The study, published in the medical journal JAMA, examined several randomized trials involving more than 1,700 patients. Patients who received the steroids were more likely to survive, and there was no suggestion of an increased risk of serious of adverse events among those who received the drugs.

Among 678 patients treated with steroids, 32.7% died. Among 1,025 patients who received usual care or a placebo, 41.5% died.

“The bottom line is that these are the sickest patients who are being treated with corticosteroids in these trials and mortality is very high, it's about 40% in the absence of treatment with corticosteroids,” said Jonathan A. C. Sterne of the University of Bristol, an author of one of the papers published Wednesday. “The treatment with corticosteroids reduces mortality of 40% to 32%, that's a 20% relative reduction, or if you like to a better way to think about it, an easier way to think about, it is that out of every hundred patients treated with corticosteroids, eight additional patients do not die.”

These results suggest steroids should be part of standard care for critically ill Covid-19 patients, the study says.

"These studies provide evidence and some hope that an effective, inexpensive, and safe treatment has been identified," Dr. Hallie Prescott of the University of Michigan and Dr. Todd Rice of Vanderbilt University wrote in an accompanying editorial.

The new analysis confirms preliminary results previously shared by researchers from the UK-based Recovery trial; results from that trial are included in the new analysis. In June, those researchers said a low-dose regimen of dexamethasone for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation in the trial.

Steroids are widely available and already commonly used to treat seriously ill Covid-19 patients.

11:25 a.m. ET, September 2, 2020

A travel company canceled trips to a Greek resort due to coronavirus spike

From CNN's Sharon Brathwaite

Tourists disembark at the famous Navagio (Shipwreck) beach on the Ionian island of Zante on July 18.
Tourists disembark at the famous Navagio (Shipwreck) beach on the Ionian island of Zante on July 18. Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Travel company TUI will cancel trips to Greek resort of Laganas, on the island of Zante, from Thursday due to coronavirus spikes, a TUI UK spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.

This follows a decision by the Welsh government to ask travelers returning from Zante to self-isolate for 14 days, after it had "identified multiple separate clusters linked to the Greek island of Zante/Zakynthos." 

On Tuesday the Scottish government announced that travelers returning from Greece would be required to follow quarantine restrictions.

"Following the recent positive cases from customers returning from Zante, we have taken the decision to no longer offer holidays in the resort of Laganas from Thursday 3 September," a TUI UK spokesperson said Wednesday in a statement.

About the resort: Laganas is "a popular resort with young people who traditionally holiday in large groups of friends. The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our primary concern and recent cases shows that some customers are not following social distancing and Covid safety measures. It is therefore the right thing to do to protect and reduce a now identified potential risk to others by no longer offering holidays to this specific resort," the statement adds.

"The recent cases in Wales have highlighted a demographic of customers that have recently returned from Zante and subsequently tested positive. As the only airline that flies between Cardiff and Zante it has allowed us to understand trends that may also be seen in other areas of the UK."

The company spokesperson also said that customers impacted will be offered a full cash refund and "customers due to travel to Greece from Scotland will be able to amend or cancel their holiday in light of the recent quarantine announcement."

 

11:12 a.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Ford will cut 1,400 salaried jobs and offer early retirement

From CNN's Chris Isidore

Ford Motor Co. world headquarters stands behind a sunflower patch in Dearborn, Michigan,  on Saturday, September 14, 2019.
Ford Motor Co. world headquarters stands behind a sunflower patch in Dearborn, Michigan, on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ford is looking to cut 1,400 white collar jobs in a cost-savings move.

The automaker sent out letters to employees Wednesday, saying that salaried staff eligible for retirement would be getting early retirement offers next week. Those who take the offer by Oct. 23 would be leaving the company by the end of the year.

"Our hope is to reach [cost cutting] targets with the voluntary incentive program," the letter from Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas, said. "If that doesn't happen, involuntary separations may be required."

The auto industry has been hit hard by the economic downturn associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Car sales are down significantly as millions of US workers have lost their jobs, and millions more are working from home and not in need of a new car to get to and from work.

Ford posted a 50% drop in revenue in the second quarter, and it would have lost $1.9 billion in the period without a paper gain from its investment in Argo AI, a separate company working on self-driving car technology in which Ford and Volkswagen have a joint stake.

The company has 30,000 salaried US staff and 56,000 US hourly factory workers. It had 190,000 employees worldwide at the start of the year. It has not had any layoffs of hourly workers this year, unlike rival General Motors, in response to the drop in sales from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ford said its cost-cutting move is part of a five-year, $11 billion restructuring that was first announced two years ago. Most of the job cuts from that effort is expected to be focused on less profitable overseas operations.

Ford's stock was flat Wednesday morning.

11:07 a.m. ET, September 2, 2020

First confirmed case of Covid-19 at Moria refugee camp in Greece

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London and Chris Liakos in Greece

This photo taken on August 24 shows a part of the makeshift camp next to the refugee camp of Moria, in the island of Lesbos.
This photo taken on August 24 shows a part of the makeshift camp next to the refugee camp of Moria, in the island of Lesbos. Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

The first confirmed case of Covid-19 has been reported at Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) said Wednesday.

The Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum also said in a statement on Wednesday that the patient is a 40-year-old Somali refugee. The Ministry said he “returned illegally to Moria, where he had been staying in a tent outside the existing fence, despite being issued an exit decision” and leaving the camp on July 17. He is currently being treated at the hospital of Mytilene, Lesbos.

The entire Moria camp has now been placed under quarantine for 14 days, the Ministry added. A team from Greece’s Public Health Organization is going to Moria to track down the patient’s contacts, the statement said.

“The arrival of the coronavirus in the EU ‘hotspot’ refugee camp of Moria is a disaster for the people who are stranded there. ‘Social distancing’ and recommended hygiene practices to reduce risk are impossible,” said Evelien van Roemburg, Oxfam’s Europe migration campaign manager.

She warned “without immediate and drastic intervention, this will turn into a devastating health crisis that could cause the deaths of hundreds of already weakened people”.

At the end of August, Moria camp had close to 12,000 people – about 40% of them children – living in a space built for fewer than 3,000 people, the charity said.

“There are up to 160 people using the same dirty toilet and over 500 people per every shower. In some parts of the camp, 325 people share one tap and there is no soap. 15 to 20 people can live in a single shipping container, or in tents or makeshift shelters,” the statement added.

“Nearly six months into the pandemic, the emergency plan designed by Greece is still far from sufficient to properly protect people seeking asylum, staff in the refugee camps, and the wider population on the Greek islands. It almost exclusively focuses on restricting the movement of people, rather than adequate prevention and response," said Natalia-Rafaella Kafkoutsou, refugee law expert at the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR).

She called for everyone in Moria to be tested for the coronavirus, and for positive cases to be isolated immediately in proper facilities. "The Greek government and its EU partners need to take immediate action and transfer everyone out of the ‘hotspot’ to suitable accommodation on the Greek mainland and in other EU member states," Kafkoutsou urged.

Greece has so far registered 10,524 coronavirus cases and 271 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.