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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12:35 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Trump mocks Biden for wearing a mask

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, September 3.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, September 3. Justin Merriman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

US President Donald Trump on Thursday mocked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing a face mask even as the US continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases, with more than 6 million infections.

Speaking to a largely mask-less crowd in Pennsylvania, Trump asked his supporters if they know "a man that likes a mask as much" as Biden.

"It gives him a feeling of security," the President said. "If I was a psychiatrist, I'd say this guy has some big issues." 

Trump's comments, which came the day after the US topped 185,000 Covid-19 deaths, run counter to the advice of public health experts, who have emphasized the importance of face coverings amid the country's reopening, given that people without symptoms could unknowingly transmit the virus.

Masks are primarily to prevent people who have the virus from infecting others.

12:35 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Brazil's Bolsonaro challenges validity of coronavirus vaccines

From journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil speaks during the presentation of a bridge development project over the Ribeira de Iguape River, on September 3.
Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil speaks during the presentation of a bridge development project over the Ribeira de Iguape River, on September 3. Miguel Schincariol/Getty Images

President Jair Bolsonaro has said he won’t approve a Covid-19 vaccine for the public until after the country’s health surveillance agency (ANVISA) gives a second opinion. 

Speaking in his weekly Facebook live video on Thursday -- just hours after Brazil’s health ministry announced the country had surpassed 4 million Covid-19 cases -- Bolsonaro said vaccines developed in the United States, the European Union, Japan and China, while “scientifically proven in these other countries,” would require further examination to be used for immunizations in Brazil. 

On Monday, Bolsonaro was recorded on cell phone video telling a supporter he wouldn’t make a Covid-19 vaccine mandatory in Brazil.

Brazil’s health ministry followed up Wednesday, confirming that no one would be forced to receive the vaccine. Bolsonaro repeated that pledge in Thursday’s broadcast, drawing support from the country’s anti-vaxxer community. 

 “We cannot be irresponsible when putting a vaccine into people's bodies,” Bolsonaro said. “Nobody can force anyone to get a vaccine.” 
11:30 p.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Here's why it's unlikely the US will have a coronavirus vaccine by Election Day

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking states to get ready to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by as early as next month. The CEO of Pfizer says he thinks it's possible his company will have enough data to ask the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization by October.

And officials inside the FDA have told CNN that US President Donald Trump has consistently pressed agencies to speed up their timeline for developing a vaccine so he can have a vaccine victory by Election Day.

But is it really possible we could have a coronavirus vaccine by November?

The doctors running clinical trials would know best ... and they don't think so.
"Do the simple math," said Dr. Larry Corey of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who is leading the team coordinating clinical trials for federally backed coronavirus vaccines in the US.
"We designed the trial to get to 130, 140 endpoints seven months from starting the trial," Corey told CNN. "The first one started in mid-July."

 If you add seven months to July, you get February.

That doesn't mean it's impossible to have an answer before then: If one of the vaccines being tested is highly effective, and there is a high rate of infection among trial volunteers, it's possible many people who got placebo shots would get infected quickly.

"If you had a highly effective vaccine, maybe you'd find that five months from designing the trial," Corey said.

But if you add five months to July, you get December.

Read the full story:

11:30 p.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Trump puts pressure on US FDA for coronavirus silver bullet ahead of Election Day

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins

Facing a persistent polling deficit and a struggling economy, US President Donald Trump has cranked up pressure on administration health officials to expedite work both on a coronavirus vaccine and on treatments that might signal to voters there is an end in sight to the life-altering pandemic that has imperiled his reelection prospects. 

In his public remarks and through private prodding, Trump has pushed for more good news on the pandemic, insisting that even developments considered minor by health experts be expanded into major announcements for which he can claim credit.

And he's looking to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the biggest one.

Facing one of the most critical moments in its tenure since it was founded over 100 years ago, officials inside the FDA say the tension is palpable.

A number of sources familiar with the internal workings told CNN the responsibility feels immense and the environment is akin to that of a pressure cooker. In the last week alone, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn was forced to apologize for an overhyped plasma announcement, subsequently removed a newly installed communications aide, and found himself on the receiving end of criticism from the West Wing.

Read the full story:

11:45 p.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Australian state of Victoria reports 59 more Covid-19 deaths after two-month backlog

The Australian state of Victoria reported 81 fresh coronavirus cases and 59 related deaths on Friday, according to its health department. 

The relatively high number of new fatalities comes after a backlog of deaths was reported from July and August.

"There were 81 new cases and sadly 59 deaths," a tweet from the health department read. "This includes 50 people in aged care who passed away in July - August." 

Victoria had a significant rise in cases over August, with many new infections in aged-care homes and among health care workers. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a state of emergency on August 3.

11:41 p.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Nevada loosens coronavirus restrictions in Las Vegas

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Nevada’s coronavirus task force voted Thursday to allow some restaurants in the Las Vegas area to reopen next week as Covid-19 numbers decline.

Beginning next Wednesday, Clark County restaurants with countertop services, including diners and sushi restaurants, will be able to reopen with social distancing. Bars and taverns that don’t serve food must remain closed.

Despite a substantial drop in new daily cases statewide over the last month, “we have a long way to go considering the fact that we started out so high,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a Thursday briefing.

Clark County has a test positivity rate above 10%, as does neighboring Nye County. 

Sisolak warned Nevadans not to be complacent over the Labor Day holiday weekend. 

“Please, celebrate with your immediate family,” the governor said. “Have a cookout in your backyard, watch some TV, whatever it might be. But please do not have large gatherings.”

11:40 p.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Michigan governor extends Covid-19 state of emergency to October

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s State of Emergency until October 1 at 11:59 p.m. due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a release from her office.

In early August, every region in Michigan saw an uptick in new cases which recently put the state past the 100,000 Covid-19 cases mark, though the state’s percent positivity rate remains below the national average at 3.3%, the release said. 

“With over 6,500 deaths, the virus continues to threaten the lives of Michiganders every day. Covid-19 is a novel virus with many unknowns, but we do know that it is widespread, it is easily transmitted, and its effects can be fatal. We must continue to take this seriously and do everything we can to protect ourselves and all Michiganders from Covid-19,” Whitmer said. “By extending the state of emergency, we can continue the crucial work needed to save lives.” 

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

11:29 p.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Brazil surpasses 4 million Covid-19 cases

From Rodrigo Pedroso and Leighton Rowell

Brazil surpassed 4 million cases of coronavirus on Thursday as a growing number of infections continue to be recorded throughout the country.

The health ministry reported 43,773 new cases of Covid-19 and 834 deaths on Thursday evening, bringing total confirmed cases in Brazil to 4,041,638 and its death toll to 124,614. 

After the United States, Brazil has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths globally, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Brazil also joins the US as only the second country in the world to have passed the grim milestone of 4 million infections. 

A silver lining: While cases and deaths continue to rise, both Brazil’s infection rate and virus-related mortality rate appeared to decline last month; CNN analysis showed.

An average of 869 deaths were recorded daily in the final week of August, the country’s lowest daily average since May 20.

Some more context: This news follows the health ministry’s announcement on Wednesday that the Covid-19 vaccination will not be mandatory when it becomes available in Brazil – although the ministry’s executive secretary, Elcio Franco, said the vaccine “will be a great tool for us to return to normal.”

The Brazilian economy has also taken a significant hit from the pandemic.

According to data from the country’s Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), Brazil officially entered a recession on Tuesday after marking a historic 9.7% fall in GDP in the second quarter of 2020.