September 2 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020
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3:05 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Minnesota health department reports Covid-19 death linked to Sturgis bike rally

From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin

The Minnesota Department of Health has announced that a Covid-19-positive patient who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in early August has died.

“The person was in their 60s and had been hospitalized and in the ICU,” Doug Schultz, a spokesman with the department, told CNN.

The person also had underlying health conditions, Schultz said.

This is the first Covid-related death known to be tied to the rally. Minnesota, as of today, has 50 Covid-19 cases in people who reported attending Sturgis Rally, Schultz said.

As of Aug. 31, there have been at least 260 Covid-19 cases associated with people who attended the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, in early August.

CNN surveyed state health departments across the United States and has tallied cases in at least 12 states.

The rally ran from Aug. 7 to 10, with an estimated 460,000 attendee vehicles, the South Dakota Department of Transportation said.

2:18 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

National Institutes of Health awards $129 million to help speed up Covid-19 testing

From CNN's Jen Christensen

The National Institutes of Health announced a $129.3 million initiative Wednesday to immediately scale up the manufacturing of rapid tests and widen the network of high throughput labs.

The NIH said this should significantly increase the number and type of tests by millions per week.

The contracts go to nine companies as part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program. The first awards went out in July.

The money will help five existing high-throughput labs expand their network of coverage as early as this month. The goal is to speed up the turnaround of test results in regions that have had backups. One contract went to Nashville-based PathGroup, which has labs concentrated in the Southeast and Midwest. The company processes about 10,000 coronavirus tests a day, but with the funding and a partnership with ThermoFisher and Illumina, it will add additional test equipment and automation that should let the lab perform 80,000 tests a day by December.

The money will also fund novel technology to make Covid-19 testing more accessible.

One company, Virginia-based MicroGEM International, created a portable lab that tests saliva samples. It can give test results in 15 minutes. That technology can also be used to detect other pathogens in the sample, such as influenza.

Funding will go to Nebraska-based MatMaCorp that created a portable mini-lab that can be used in clinics and hospitals in rural and other medically underserved communities.

A contract went to Maryland-based Maxim Biomedical for its Covid-19 test that has a single use test strip similar to a home pregnancy test that doesn’t need specialized equipment to read the results.

Another went to Virginia-based Ceres Nanoscience Inc, which created a sample prep method that improves the sensitivity of other company’s tests and reduces the processing time needed to look for the novel coronavirus. 

“Many of these tests incorporate innovations that have moved from research labs to the point of care with unprecedented speed,” Bruce Tromberg, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and lead for RADx Tech, said in a statement.

Some context: On Tuesday, Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, said that the turnaround times for the major referral labs has decreased over the past seven days.

These labs process about half the country’s Covid-19 tests, but people in some regions of the country are still struggling to find a test or have seen long waits for results. 

2:29 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Biden: "I think a president has the responsibility to set examples" on pandemic guidelines

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was just asked to respond to criticism from some potential voters and even President Trump about his campaign schedule, which has limited in-person events due to the pandemic.

Biden said he wished he was able to go out more, but added, "I think a president has the responsibility to set examples."

Biden said he's met with medical experts on the best ways to protect himself and the communities during campaign events.

"We've worked out a protocol where how I get on the plane, what kind of are plane I get on, how it's sanitized. Where, how I engage people. It's like when I'm engaging all of you, everywhere I go — always at a safe distance and everybody's wearing a mask," he said.

"So I'm just trying to set the example: Wearing the protective gear, a mask, which I have with me. I'm able at this distance to take it off," he added.

Watch more:

1:49 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Reopening schools safely is a "national emergency," Biden says

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Following a virtual briefing with experts on school reopenings Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden called the issue of students being able to go back to school safely during the pandemic a “national emergency.” 

“I think going back to school for millions of children and the impacts on their families and the community is a national emergency, I believe that's what it is,” he said. “Protecting our students, our educators, our communities. Getting our schools open safely and effectively. This is a national emergency.”  

He called for emergency funding for schools: “Mr. President, where are you? Where are you? Why aren't you working on this? We need emergency support funding for our schools and we need it now. Mr. President, that's your job, that's your job," he said.  

"Get off Twitter, and talk to congressional leaders from both parties, invite them to the Oval Office," he added.  

He accused the President and the education secretary of not stepping up: "Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, Secretary DeVos, haven't stepped up, and we're all seeing the results. Millions of students are now starting the new school year in the same way they finished the last one: at home. At home," he said.

1:58 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Biden on reopening schools: "We need straightforward, common sense solutions"

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos "haven't stepped up" when it comes to safely reopening schools, and he called for "straightforward, common sense solutions."

"We all want our schools to reopen safely with a plan that prioritizes the health of our students and educators and staff alike," Biden said in remarks delivered from Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden laid out some of his school reopening plans which he said were posted on his campaign website. The former vice president said the Trump administration is "starving schools of the needed funding."

"If I were president today, I would direct FEMA to make sure our kids K-12 get full access to disaster relief and emergency assistance under the Stafford Act. I'd make sure that PPE and sanitation supplies for schools qualify as emergency protective measures," Biden said. "On top of that, I would be working with leaders of Congress now, today to pass emergency packages for schools so they would have resources they need in order to be able to open safely."

Biden also said that if elected president, he would also support additional funding for mental health in schools and funds to hire additional teachers as smaller classes mean "more educators are needed."


1:40 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Biden: If Trump had done his job, "American schools would be open"


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden criticized President Trump's response to the coronavirus crisis, saying the administration "hasn't shown much grit at all."

"If President Trump and his administration had done their jobs early on in this crisis, American schools would be open and they'd be open safely. Instead, American families all across this county are paying the price for his failures and his administration's failures," Biden said while speaking in Delaware today.

Biden said Trump has "no real plan" for how to reopen schools safely this fall.

"He's offering nothing but failure and delusions from the start to finish to American families and our children. They are paying the price for his failures," Biden said.


1:23 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Colorado governor announces partnership to provide free internet for students in the state

From CNN’s Nakia McNabb

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Colorado Governor's office

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis held a news conference today at Fort Logan Northgate School in Denver to provide further updates on a major challenge many students in the state have encountered during the Covid-19 crisis.

Polis says an estimated 65,000 Colorado students lack access to the internet. In an effort to help families with remote learning, the governor announced an agreement with T-Mobile that will provide free Wi-Fi hotspots, up to 100 gigabytes of annual data and access to internet ready devices for 34,000 low income households.

“The estimate from the education initiative in the department were about 65,000, Colorado families don't have high speed access at home for their kids. This number served out of the T-Mobile program is about half that, so it's in the 30 thousand’s. Now that doesn't mean that it meets half the need because some of the people that the T-Mobile service will benefit might already have access but it'll save those families, you know, $10, $20 $30 a month, which is also a big deal," Polis said.

The criteria for free service is based on free and reduced school lunch eligibility. Gov. Polis discussed the racial and economic factors effecting families access to the internet across the state including homelessness, credit history and immigration status.

“Even worse, this access divide often falls along racial lines. Recent research from Colorado future center found that two thirds of students that lack internet access in Colorado, are Latino. In addition, we know that families experiencing homelessness, including many families and districts like Sheridan and DPS have an even more difficult time with access to the internet and being able to maintain that continuity of study for their kids without broadband without access. Students are unable to participate in remote learning. They're often unable to do their homework, if they're in school or in person. And they're more likely to disengage, and more likely to fall behind” Polis said.

1:19 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Covid-19 cases in Europe "almost back" to March levels, EU health body says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

A member of the public walks past a shop selling face masks Glasgow on September 2.
A member of the public walks past a shop selling face masks Glasgow on September 2. Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Novel coronavirus cases in Europe are "almost back" to March levels, the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Andrea Ammon, said on Wednesday during a debate held by EU Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

“The virus hasn't been sleeping over the summer so it didn't take vacation and that is something that we see now. We have seen now this week that the notification rate in the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries and the UK is now 46 per 100,000. You may remember that at one point we have been already below 15 so there is an increase and this increase we have been seeing now for more than five weeks. It has been a slower increase (than) we had in March. However, we are almost back to the numbers that we have seen in March,” Ammon said.

“In August, now, we are seeing more that also (an) older population is affected, indicating that it's really a true increase in transmission.”

Regarding school reopenings and the risk of coronavirus spikes, Ammon said: “there are very few significant outbreaks in schools that have been documented and the evidence is really at the moment conflicting, meaning it's very inconclusive to say whether it's useful or not from a transmission point of view to close schools.”

1:09 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

James Madison University will have online learning for at least a month following Covid-19 uptick 

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will transition to online learning for the month of September, following a notable uptick in coronavirus cases at the school, the university president announced in a letter.

JMU did not commit to a return date in the announcement. Instead, university officials will “carefully monitor health trends” and will provide an update on a possible return by Sept. 25 about a possible return “on or after October 5th,” the letter stated.

CNN reported on Tuesday that the university was reporting a 21.14% seven-day moving average of daily positivity rates among students and employees.