Close the bars and mandate masks, coronavirus task force tells Missouri officials
From CNN's Betsy Klein
The White House coronavirus task force has recommended officials in the state of Missouri close bars and mandate masks as the pandemic spreads. An August 30 report for the state, obtained by CNN, shows the state is in the task force’s defined “red zone” for cases, meaning more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population, with the 10th highest rate in the country.
The August 30 report says community transmission “continues to be high in rural and urban counties,” and notes concerns with “increasing transmission in the major university towns,” which has been problematic for other states.
“Bars must be closed,” the report reads.
And, per the report, the task force recommends a mask mandate, saying, “Mask mandates across the state must be in place to decrease transmission.” The state is one of 15 in the US that does not require people to wear masks in public.
7:13 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020
Russia allows resumption of travel to Egypt, UAE and Maldives
From CNN's Simon Cullen
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has announced the resumption of international air travel to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the Maldives on a mutual basis, according to state-run media TASS.
Mishustin has signed a directive to allow for the change, according to TASS.
“Egypt (Cairo), three flights a week; the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), two flights a week; the Republic of Maldives (Velana airport), two flights a week," a government statement said, according to TASS.
Regular flights between Russia and other countries around the world were interrupted at the end of March due to the pandemic, TASS said.
6:59 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020
New hotels are opening amid the pandemic. Here's why
From CNN's Shivani Vora
To say that Covid-19 has hurt the hotel industry, along with travel as a whole, is something of an understatement.
According to Hotel News Now, the news division of hotel research company STR, the sector has seen a loss of 5 million jobs since February in the United States alone. And Zachary Sears, a senior economist at Tourism Economics, part of research firm Oxford Economics, says that hotel occupancy in some instances is down 95% versus a year ago.
"Properties have been forced to close permanently because of the financial loss they've taken," he says.
In fact, the American Lodging and Hotel Industry released a report on August 31 that indicates 65% of hotels remain at or below 50% occupancy. The same report states that consumer travel is at an all-time low and that only 38% of Americans say they are likely to take a leisure vacation by the end of the year. In normal circumstances, 70% of Americans take a vacation in any given year.
Some good news: Despite the bleak scenario and the continuing pandemic, there is a bright spot: from Europe and the United States to Africa, Asia and Australia, a spate of new hotels from bigger brands as well as smaller owners are set to open this fall and into the winter.
"The next several months are a busy time for hotel openings," says Leo Sorcher, the founder of luxury travel company Inhabit the World. "They show a light at the end of this long tunnel."
UK government announces £500 million for rapid Covid-19 testing
From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced £500 million ($665 million) for rapid Covid-19 testing and boost capacity, amid complaints of “operational challenges” from members of the public.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Thursday, Hancock said there was still a “significant demand for testing” among the British population, adding that the government “put a huge amount of testing into areas of outbreak where the numbers of cases are much higher.”
He said that when someone is unable to get a test at their closest center, they are then offered a test at a place where one is available, even if it is across the country.
There have been reports in UK media that those seeking tests have been directed to test centers more than 100 miles away.
Hancock said the “vast majority of people get a test really easily, it's turned around, you get the result the next day.”
The new investment in testing will help to “solve the problem by having the next generation of test at a radically bigger scale,” Hancock said, adding that he wants to get to the point where “the lab is in the back of a van” and can easily travel to hotspots.
The first stage will commence imminently with the launch of a "new, community-wide trial in Salford" to "assess the benefits of repeat population testing," the UK's Department of Health Thursday said in a press release. The Salford initiative will aim to process up to 250 tests a day, the department said, adding that "promising trials in Southampton and Hampshire, using a saliva test and a rapid 20-minute test, will also be expanded using the new funding."
When asked how soon the rapid testing would be widely available to the public, Hancock declined to go into specifics saying the reliance "on brand new technology" prevented him from providing a specific date.
Hancock said the Department of Health was working with a company to "manufacture these kits as fast as possible" with the new funding. Hancock added that of the 100 companies the government is currently working with, three have had their tests verified.
He also said the UK government would not be implementing testing on arrival at British airports. As the "virus incubates in you," Hancock said, "scientists reckon that we find only about 7% of the total cases" from testing on the day of return. He pointed to the "countries around the world that have introduced this testing on arrival" who "are now moving away from it and doing the testing much later.”
6:10 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020
Students return to school in England and Wales
From CNN's Scott McLean in Waterlooville, England
Many students in England and Wales are returning to school, which have put in place new measures and restrictions to help combat the spread of Covid-19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said scientific advice suggests it's safe for children to restart classes despite an uptick in coronavirus cases. CNN's Scott McLean reports from a school in Waterlooville, England.
5:55 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020
Experts caution to keep coronavirus vaccines off the fast track
From CNN's Madeline Holcombe and Shelby Lin Erdman
As many hope for a vaccine to bring Covid-19 under control, a leading vaccine expert warned against using an emergency use authorization (EUA) to put one on the US market as soon as possible.
"How can you justify a substandard or lesser review for something that would be injected in tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of Americans?" Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor and the dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said in series of social media posts Wednesday.
EUAs allow the FDA to greenlight unapproved medical products without going through the complete lengthy process needed for full approval. But Hotez urged federal health agencies to "follow that process" for a vaccine so significant.
When will a vaccine be available? Three vaccines for a virus that has infected more than 6.1 million Americans are currently in Phase 3 testing in the US, which experts have called impressively quick. Officials have insisted no vaccine will be distributed to the public until it is effective and safe, but they differ on when that might be. Many, including the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, say early 2021 would be a good estimate, while other officials are eyeing the coming months.
US President Donald Trump has predicted that there will be a vaccine available in time for the November 3 election, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told public health officials around the US to prepare to distribute one as soon as late October. But health experts say those predictions aren't realistic.
"This is like the Boy Scout motto, 'Be Prepared,'" Director of the National Institutes for Health Dr. Francis Collins said. "Even if it's very low likelihood, if everything happened to come together really beautifully and we had an answer by then and we knew we had a vaccine that was safe and effective, wouldn't you want people to be ready to figure out how to do the distribution? That's all that CDC is saying."
Thailand marks 100 days without local Covid-19 cases. Will it open borders to tourists soon?
From CNN's Kocha Olarn in Bangkok and Nectar Gan
Thailand has reported zero locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 for 100 days, marking a significant milestone in the battle against the coronavirus only a small number of countries around the world have achieved.
But the Thai government is also facing growing pressure from businesses to reopen borders to international tourists, as months of travel restrictions have devastated its heavily tourism-dependent economy.
The Southeast Asian country has not recorded any local infections since late May. It is still finding coronavirus cases in overseas arrivals, who are subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Patients remain in quarantine until they've recovered.
So far, the country of 70 million people has a caseload of just 3,427, with 58 deaths. More than 28% of the reported infections are overseas cases, according to the Health Ministry.
Thailand was the first country to detect the coronavirus outside China, confirming its first case on January 13 -- a Chinese tourist who had flown to Bangkok from Wuhan.
The country had first refrained from banning Chinese tourists, but in late March, when its caseload surged close to 1,000, the Thai government declared a state of emergency and banned all non-resident foreigners from entering.
The border closure has helped protect the country while the virus rages across the world, but it has also dealt a huge blow to its tourist sector, which according to the World Bank normally contributes close to 15% of Thailand's GDP.
In June, the Tourism Council of Thailand said it expected to see an estimated 8 million foreign tourists this year, an 80% drop from last year's record number of 39.8 million.
Thailand's economy shrank 12.2% in the second quarter of this year, its worst in 22 years since the Asian financial crisis in 1998.
"We hope that we can find ways to bring back tourists in the future. Bringing tourists back is one of the key factors to revive the Thai economy in the remaining part of this year and next year as well," said Don Nakornthab, Senior Director of Economic and Policy Department at the Bank of Thailand. "But we have to do it carefully, because if the second wave happens, especially as a result from opening up for tourists, it will put Thailand into trouble again," he said at a press conference Monday.
It's just past 10 a.m. in London and 12 p.m. in Tel Aviv. Here's the latest on the pandemic.
Globally, there have been more than 26 million cases of coronavirus recorded, and more than 863,000 have died, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Here's the latest.
Indiasees highest daily spike: India reported 83,337 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the highest daily increase announced by the country’s Health Ministry. Only the United States and Brazil have recorded more cases and deaths than India, which has 3,853,406 cases, including at least 67,376 deaths.
Israel also sees surge: Israel recorded 3,074 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, the country's biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began, according to the Ministry of Health.
The surge comes just two days after schools reopened, and two weeks before the high holidays in Israel, when Jews congregate in synagogues and homes to observe Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Sanofi and Glaxo start Phase 1/2 trials of their coronavirus vaccine: Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline said Thursday they are starting early stage trials of their experimental coronavirus vaccine, one of several being backed by the US federal government’s Operation Warp Speed. The companies said they were recruiting 440 healthy adults at 11 trial sites to test out the vaccine in a randomized, double blind and placebo-controlled trial.
The CDC has told public health officials around the United States to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccineas soon as late October: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told public health officials around the United States to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October. It also provided planning scenarios to help states prepare.
France to unveil recovery plan: The French government will announce details of a 100 billion euro ($118 billion) economic recovery plan on Thursday, which Prime Minister Jean Castex says should generate 160,000 jobs by the end of next year.
4:31 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020
South Korea reports lowest daily increase of new Covid-19 cases in more than two weeks
From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul
South Korea recorded 195 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, the first time in more than two weeks that the daily increase dropped below 200.
The country has now seen 20,644 confirmed cases and 329 deaths from the virus after adding three new fatalities Wednesday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
Of the newly reported cases, 188 are locally transmitted, with 148 of those reported from the Seoul metropolitan area, according to Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho. Of the cases reported over the past two weeks, 41% are from local clusters, KCDC said.
The number of cases linked to the Sarang-jeil Church has also risen to 1,139.
Since September 1, an average of more than 20,000 tests have been conducted daily, KCDC said.
Nursing shortfall: KCDC also reported 154 people are in critical condition from the virus and the Health Ministry added it is reviewing whether to deploy more nurses as there is a shortage of them for critical patients.
KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Joon-wook said South Korea is in the process of “straightening the shaking tower,” and must stay alerted that it could collapse again at any time.
Kwon said the government will reevaluate social distancing measures this weekend.