September 4 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Brett McKeehan, Amy Woodyatt, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:11 a.m. ET, September 5, 2020
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10:08 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Covid-19 vaccine development has benefited from past experiences with viruses, Trump vaccine adviser says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

In an interview with Science, Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said the process of developing a Covid-19 vaccine has benefited from improving technology and past experiences with coronaviruses.

“This one has benefited from many things,” Slaoui said. “One is the advance of platform technologies in vaccinology, particularly over the past 10 years. The second thing it has really benefited from is SARS and MERS [two respiratory diseases caused by coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2]. Vaccines were designed for those. So, knowing how to how to construct the [structure] of the spike was super important. From that perspective, it's easier because past experience has been extremely relevant to this.”

Slaoui also said that “we haven’t yet hit the wall” when it comes to designing trials, manufacturing vaccines, finding study endpoints and clinical trial sites, for example.

“One of the reasons we said we needed six or eight vaccines is because some of them may or will hit the wall,” he said.

9:52 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

US stocks open mixed after solid jobs report

From CNN's Paul R. La Monica

The Dow was pointing to decent gains Friday after the US government reported that 1.4 million jobs were added in August and the unemployment rate fell more than expected. The S&P 500 was flat and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was lower again.

The moves follow Thursday’s massive drop in stocks, which was led by big sell-offs in red hot tech leaders such as Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. It was the worst day for stocks since June, and came just one day after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both hit new all-time highs.

 Here is where things stood at the opening:

  • The Dow was up more than 180 points, or 0.6%.
  • The S&P rose 0.2%.
  • The Nasdaq fell 0.2% .
9:45 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Air travel hit new pandemic high heading into Labor Day weekend

From CNN's Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

A airport employee performs an aircraft disinfecting demonstration during a media preview at the Ronald Reagan National Airport on July 22, in Arlington, Virginia.
A airport employee performs an aircraft disinfecting demonstration during a media preview at the Ronald Reagan National Airport on July 22, in Arlington, Virginia. Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened nearly 878,000 people yesterday, the highest daily level reached to date since the coronavirus pandemic battered air travel.  

The agency is currently seeing about one third of the traffic it saw last year.  

Those numbers are in line with airline projections. The trade group Airlines for America said it expects traffic this weekend to be between a quarter to a third of the traffic seen last year.  

Several groups that normally issue predictions for holiday road trip volumes, including AAA, are not doing so this year.  

9:32 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Trump's vaccine chief says he would resign if there was undue interference in Covid-19 vaccine process

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKlines vaccines division, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, in Washington.
President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKlines vaccines division, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said in an interview with Science that he would resign from his role if there was undue interference in the Covid-19 vaccine effort.

“I would immediately resign if there is undue interference in this process,” Slaoui said in the interview, published Thursday. He also said that he would be “out” if he saw a push for a US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization that he didn’t believe in.  

“I have to say there has been absolutely no interference,” Slaoui said. “Despite my past, which is still my present, I am still the same person with the same values. The pandemic is much bigger than that. Before being a political person with convictions, humanity has always been my objective.” 

When asked if he and the Trump administration had discussed waiting to ask for an emergency use authorization until after Election Day, Slaoui said an EUA should be requested when it has evidence of safety and efficacy.

“I have to say, maybe even despite my personal political views, that I don't think that's right, because 1,000 people die every day [from COVID-19],” Slaoui said. “If a vaccine [had evidence of safety and efficacy] on 25 October, it should be [requested] on 25 October. If it's 17 November, it should be 17 November. If it's 31 December, it should be 31 December," he said.

“It needs to be absolutely shielded from the politics,” he said. “I cannot control what people say. The President says things, other people will say things. Trust me, there will be no EUA filed if it’s not right.” 

9:17 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Dr. Sanjay Gupta says he's "discouraged and frustrated" by Americans' reaction to coronavirus

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said the US response to coronavirus is “shocking,” as a new model often cited by health experts predicts more than 400,000 Americans could die from Covid-19 by January 1. 

The model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation would mean an additional 224,000 Americans lost in the next four months — more than double the 186,000 deaths reported to date by Johns Hopkins University.

Gupta said on CNN’s “New Day” that he spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci about this new model and said he expressed “a convergence of frustration.”

Gupta said he’s also “discouraged and frustrated” by Americans’ lax reaction as the coronavirus continues and said he’s been up all night thinking about the models.  

“I don't know what it takes at this point to actually say, ‘Hey, look, you could be part of a movement that could save more than 100,000 lives if you simply put two ear loops around your ears’ … and people are saying ‘you know what, screw it, I’d rather not,’” Gupta said.  

“What I'm starting to feel is the existential threat is the human behavior. … I think we really are having a reckoning with regard to just basic human decency at this point,” he added. 

Gupta said the virus is not hard to combat, as long as people wear a mask, wash their hands, keep their distance and spend time together outside — and it’s even more important going into the fall and winter. 

“We in the United States have been very, very willing hosts for too long,” he said. 

“This is not that hard. We take brain tumors out of people. We treat what are considered untreatable cancers. We put people back together after massive trauma. This is not that hard,” Gupta said. 


8:57 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Widespread Covid-19 vaccination not likely available until mid-2021, World Health Organization says 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

The World Health Organization is “not expecting to see widespread vaccination [for coronavirus] until the middle of next year," spokesperson Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva Friday.

There are currently 34 vaccines globally carrying out human trials, according to WHO, with 142 vaccine candidates currently in the pre-clinical trial phase.

Harris was speaking the same day that the first peer-reviewed results of phase one and phase two clinical trials of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine – the world's first approved coronavirus vaccine for public use — were published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.

Although Harris did not reference the Russian vaccine, Harris emphasized the importance of safety and efficiency checks saying that phase three trials “will take much longer” in order to “see how truly protective” and safe any vaccine is.

Remember: Scientists not involved in the study of the Russia vaccine said while the results are a positive sign, only larger, phase three trials can confirm whether the vaccine actually prevents illness with Covid-19. 

8:47 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Georgia governor to residents: Follow coronavirus guidelines over Labor Day weekend

From CNN's Tina Burnside

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp puts on a mask after speaking at a press conference announcing statewide expanded COVID testing on August 10, in Atlanta.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp puts on a mask after speaking at a press conference announcing statewide expanded COVID testing on August 10, in Atlanta. Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is urging all residents not to let their guards down and to follow all public health guidelines over the Labor Day weekend. 

Kemp said that although the state is starting to see a decline in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, it is important for everyone to follow and enforce the guidelines outlined in the governor's executive order. This includes a ban on large gatherings and safety measures on businesses and restaurants as well as a shelter in place for the medically fragile.

"I understand that many, many of us are tired and ready to move on but we have to hunker down and keep chopping against Covid-19." Kemp said Friday
8:42 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Iraq records highest daily Covid-19 case increase since pandemic began

From CNN's Aqeel Najim in Baghdad 

Iraq reported at least 5,036 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, which is the highest daily number of infections recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, the country's Ministry of Public Health said.

The latest recorded cases brings the country's total case count to 252,075. There were also 84 new deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 7,359, the Ministry says.

9:33 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

US adds 1.4 million jobs in August, but is still down 11.5 million jobs since Covid-19 hit

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

Another 1.4 million jobs were added to the US economy in August, as the jobs recovery continued to slow.

This was in line with expectations, and down from 1.7 million jobs added in July and 4.8 million in June.

Every person who can go back to work is a win for the recovery from the unprecedented jobless crisis the Covid-19 pandemic has brought on. However, America is still down 11.5 million jobs from February.

The unemployment rate fell to 8.4%. It's below 10% — which was also its Great Recession peak — for the first time since March.

This means millions of families in need of benefits to make ends meet while Congress continues to argue about the next stimulus package.

During the Republican National Convention last week, President Trump promised to create 10 million new jobs in 10 months. If the predictions hold true, he'll have 8.6 million more to go — and even then, the US economy wouldn't have gained back all the jobs lost since February.

Trump's promise could prove difficult to achieve. The recovery is losing steam as the sugar rush from stimulus wears off, millions of people are still working from home, and retail, restaurants and other services industries remain battered from the pandemic.