September 8 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020
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10:36 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Pennsylvania restaurants can move to 50% indoor capacity later this month, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Pennsylvania restaurants can increase their indoor capacity to 50% beginning Sept. 21, the governor said Tuesday.

Gov. Tom Wolf is requiring restaurants to commit to complying to public health safety guidelines by submitting through a self-certification process.

Restaurants must complete the online self-certification by Oct. 5.

Starting Sept. 21, restaurants with alcohol sales will stop those sales at 10:00 p.m. local time, Wolf's office said in the release.

10:14 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Texas governor extends Covid-19 disaster declaration

From CNN’s Kay Jones

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation extending the Disaster Declaration for all counties in the state in response to Covid-19.

The extension was signed on Monday. The original proclamation was issued on March 13 and has been renewed on a monthly basis since. 

"Renewing this Disaster Declaration helps ensure that we have the resources and strategies in place to help communities across Texas respond to COVID-19," Abbott said in a statement. "I urge Texans to take precautionary steps to protect their health by wearing a mask, social distancing, and sanitizing their hands. Working together, we will slow the spread and keep our communities safe.”
9:58 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

What's reopening this week: Kids are going back to school and the NFL season will kick off

People watch a film at an AMC theater in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on August 20.
People watch a film at an AMC theater in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on August 20. Tom Cooper/Getty Images

The US has recorded more than 6.3 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began earlier this year, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

But today — the day after Labor Day in the US and the unofficial start of fall — some hallmarks of fall and other businesses are starting to reopen.

Here's a look at some of the things that are reopening this week or recently opened their doors again:

  • Schools: Many students across the country are are going back to today. Sixteen of the nation's largest 101 districts are starting the school year today, including those in Chicago, Houston Independent School District and Dallas Independent School District. Of the 16 districts, 14 of them are beginning their year entirely online. One district — Cyprus-Fairbanks in Texas — is opening either all online or all in-person, with parents choosing which plan they'd like, and another one — Charleston, South Carolina — is opening with a hybrid plan.
  • Professional football: The National Football League will have its season opener on Thursday, when the Kansas City Chiefs will beginning their Super Bowl title defense against the Houston Texans. Last month, the Chiefs announced it was is planning to have approximately 22% of Arrowhead Stadium’s 76,000 seats filled for the opener.
  • Movies: Last week, AMC said that 70% of its theaters — or 420 total — would be open by this weekend, including the first AMC theater in San Diego, California. The weekend also saw the release of "Tenet," which brought in an estimated $20.2 million domestically this weekend.
9:56 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Senate could vote on slimmed down stimulus bill as soon this week, McConnell says

From CNN's Manu Raju

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pictured in Beaver Dam, Kentucky, on August 25.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pictured in Beaver Dam, Kentucky, on August 25. Timothy D. Easley/AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he will introduce the new Republican scaled-back stimulus plan on Tuesday, acknowledging the bill does not have everything that Republicans want in it. 

“It does not contain every idea our party likes," McConnell said in a statement. "I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation."

What happens next: A procedural vote to bring up the plan could happen as soon as this week, McConnell said. 60 votes would be needed to overcome the Democratic filibuster and advance the proposal, and the plan is far short of securing the necessary votes. 

CNN also reported earlier this morning that Republicans privately acknowledge they have not yet won the backing of 51 of their members for their party’s stimulus proposal. 

This comes after McConnell offered a $1 trillion dollar plan in July, but Republicans were badly divided over that proposal and he never brought that plan up for a vote.

9:24 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

First day of school postponed in Hartford, Connecticut, after ransomware virus

From CNN's Adam Levine

Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut said it has postponed the opening of schools for both in person and online learning today, citing a ransomware virus that caused an outage of critical systems within the network infrastructure.

In a statement posted on their official website, officials note that the system in part communicates transportation routes to the bus company “and it is preventing our ability to operate schools on Tuesday.”

“Everyone at Hartford Public Schools was ready to welcome back our beautiful and capable students in person and remotely. We will provide updates when we have additional information to share.”

Officials are working to restore the system.

8:59 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

TSA screened 36% of last year's traffic over Labor Day weekend

From CNN's Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

Airlines saw about a third of the traffic they did last year over the long Labor Day weekend, according to numbers from the Transportation Security Administration.  

The agency said it screened 4.1 million people this Labor Day weekend, from Thursday through Monday. That averages to about 36% of the 11.3 million people screened on Labor Day weekend in 2019.  

Monday fell short of the agency’s prediction that it would screen 1 million people. It saw 935,000 travelers.

Friday was the busiest day during the pandemic, when 969,000 people were screened.

8:40 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Vaccine developers deemed it "critical" to reiterate their commitment to ethics, Pfizer CEO says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

The vaccine developers involved in the pledge to maintain high ethical standards for vaccines felt the need to reiterate their commitment to high ethical standards and scientific processes, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on NBC’s Today show on Tuesday.

“With increasing public concerns about the processes we are using to develop these vaccines, and even more importantly, the processes that will be used to evaluate these vaccines, we saw it as critical to come out and reiterate our commitment that we will develop our products, our vaccines, using the highest ethical standards and the most scientific [rigorous] processes,” Bourla said.

The nine vaccine makers said they will stand with science, at a time when the world is looking to science — in particular to a vaccine — to help bring us to the end of the pandemic, Bourla said. 

“The only rival here is the virus, and the time to get the vaccine to this,” Bourla said.

He called the pledge between nine vaccine makers “historic” and “an unprecedented moment.”

9:25 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

South Africa's economy contracts 17% in Q2, as coronavirus hits

From CNN's Eleni Giokos in Johannesburg

A person walks by a closed liquor store in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 23.
A person walks by a closed liquor store in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 23. Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg/Getty Images

South Africa’s economy shrank by 17.1% in the second quarter of 2020, as it felt the devastating impact of the economic shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In late March, the government shut down non-essential businesses for five weeks to curb the spread of coronavirus; it has since taken a gradual approach to reopening the economy.

Mining and manufacturing were among the worst-hit industries, with only agriculture showing any growth in Q2.

South Africa has seen one of the worst declines in GDP globally according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The country had already entered recession in the first quarter of the year, and has now seen four consecutive quarters of economic decline.

8:19 a.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Nine vaccine makers sign safety pledge in race for Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Nine biopharmaceutical companies have signed an unusual pledge to uphold "high ethical standards," suggesting they won’t seek premature government approval for Covid-19 vaccines.

The pledge, released on Tuesday, states: "We, the undersigned biopharmaceutical companies, want to make clear our on-going commitment to developing and testing potential vaccines for COVID-19 in accordance with high ethical standards and sound scientific principles."

The companies that signed up to it are: AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Merck.

The pledge comes just about a week after US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said the agency could consider emergency use authorization or approval for a Covid-19 vaccine before critical Phase 3 trials are complete.

The nine companies on Tuesday wrote that they pledge to "Only submit for approval or emergency use authorization after demonstrating safety and efficacy through a Phase 3 clinical study that is designed and conducted to meet requirements of expert regulatory authorities such as FDA."

Pfizer and Moderna have vaccines in late-stage, Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States; Johnson & Johnson is preparing to start one.