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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6:55 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Connecticut adds 4 nearby states to its travel advisory list

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

Gov. Ned Lamont 
Gov. Ned Lamont  CNN

The state of Connecticut has added four states — Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia — to its travel advisory list.

"They have a higher infection rate, which is the criterion we have for whether you can fly in without quarantining or not," Gov. Ned Lamont explained to CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We're a small state, we're a region that's got a very low infection rate. And so far we've been at less than 1% for over three months. We want to keep it that way."

Amid the Covid-19 global pandemic, Connecticut joined neighboring New York and New Jersey in a regional approach to protecting against the virus. Lamont pointed to air travel as a key component in this strategy.

"They fly into Kennedy [International] Airport, they fly into LaGuardia [Airport,] they drive up here to Connecticut. And it makes sense for us to do this together," the governor told the host of CNN's "The Situation Room." "Obviously Newark International Airport gets people from all over the world. It made good sense for us to do this."

Meanwhile, on the first Tuesday after Labor Day, Lamont noted the challenges facing children as they look to return to the classroom.

"We've opened up our schools. Many of them full-time, some of them on a hybrid basis. These kids hadn't been to school for many months," he said. 

"We're going to do this, but we're going to do it very, very carefully," he said of the educational plan, adding "we're going to walk before we run."

As the number of Covid-19 deaths continues to rise, Lamont assured his state is taking every precaution to keep kids and their teachers safe.

"Look, we're requiring the masks, we've got all the toughest disinfecting standards," he said. "Some of those school districts that are a little more crowded, they only have half days or half classes just to spread people out."

6:34 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Testing "as many people as possible" key to controlling coronavirus, NIH directors say

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

University Health Sciences Spokane administer COVID-19 tests to students at a mobile testing site on campus, Wednesday, September 2, in Pullman, Washington.
University Health Sciences Spokane administer COVID-19 tests to students at a mobile testing site on campus, Wednesday, September 2, in Pullman, Washington. Geoff Crimmins/The Moscow-Pullman Daily News/AP

Testing “as many people as possible” is vital to helping fight the coronavirus pandemic, 11 directors of some of the various National Institutes of Health said Tuesday.

Their joint blog post contradicts recently changed guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicates that not everyone who believes they have been exposed needs to be tested. 

“Get tested if you believe you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19,” the NIH heads write in the blog post. “Testing, particularly of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals, is key to interrupting this spread.”

CDC guidance about testing was changed last month to indicate that not everyone who has been near or with someone with coronavirus needs to be tested. A senior federal health official told CNN this was because of pressure from the Trump administration.

“Unfortunately, there still is a lot of confusion about where to get a test and who should get tested,” the NIH directors said.

“It is becoming clear that for a person to test positive, they have to have a significant amount of the virus in their system. This means that if you have no symptoms but think or were told that you were in contact with a person with COVID-19, you should isolate yourself immediately, call your health care provider, and then get a test.”

Testing is the cornerstone of the basic public health approach for controlling disease outbreaks: contact tracing. “Testing can help people determine if they are infected with SARS-CoV-2 – regardless of whether they have symptoms – and whether they are at risk of spreading the infection to others. Taking measures to prevent the spread of infection will be the most effective strategy for getting us safely back to work and school,” the directors wrote.

Those signing the blog post include the directors of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the National Library of Medicine; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute of Mental Health; National Institute on Aging; National Institute of General Medical Sciences; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities; NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research; National Institute of Nursing Research; and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

6:38 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Arkansas using $4 million to purchase 120,000 antigen tests

From CNN’s Molly Silverman

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Governor Asa Hutchinson Arkansas Governor's office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today that Arkansas is using $4 million to purchase 120,000 antigen tests. 

Hutchinson said that the state had joined a multi-state purchasing agreement led by the Rockefeller Foundation partnered with the National Governors Association.

"The Department of Health has worked very diligently with our procurement team to follow up on this commitment and today I am pleased to announce that we are using 4 million dollars to purchase 120,000 antigen tests to be used throughout the state as a result of this multi-state purchasing agreement, that is our commitment. This will not require any state funds since this will be using CARES Act funding already approved for testing," Hutchinson said in the news conference. 

Hutchinson also reported that Arkansas recorded 294 additional Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours. He also said the state has 409 Covid-19 hospitalizations, which is an increase of 10, and nine additional Covid-19 deaths, for a total of 917.

Remember: These numbers were released by the Arkansas 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.


6:43 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

AstraZeneca pauses coronavirus vaccine trial after unexplained illness in volunteer

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A man receives an injection as UCLA and AstraZeneca begin phase three trials in a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
A man receives an injection as UCLA and AstraZeneca begin phase three trials in a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The Lundquist Institute/FILE

Drug giant AstraZeneca said Tuesday it had paused a trial of its coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers.

It’s a standard precaution in vaccine trials, meant to ensure experimental vaccines don’t cause serious reactions among volunteers.

“As part of the ongoing randomized, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data,” the company said in a statement sent to CNN.

“This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials,” the statement added. 

“In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully. We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”

Earlier Tuesday, AstraZeneca joined eight other companies in signing a pledge promising they would not seek premature government approval for any coronavirus vaccine. They promised they would wait until they had adequate data showing any potential vaccine worked safely to prevent infection.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of three coronavirus vaccines in late-stage, Phase 3 trials in the US.

It was not immediately clear if the pause involved only US trial sites or all of the company’s trial sites around the world. A Data and Safety Monitoring Board usually monitors trials for adverse events and can order a pause or halt to a trial, but AstraZeneca did not say who had stopped the trial.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson later said the illness affected a participant in Britain, but said all of the company’s trials of the vaccine globally would be paused.

6:03 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

UK's Boris Johnson will lower limits on social gatherings to control coronavirus spread

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on September 8, in London.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on September 8, in London. Leon Neal/Getty Images


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce new measures on Wednesday to reduce the number of people legally allowed to socially gather from 30 to six in England to control the coronavirus spread.

The new lower limit, due to take effect starting Monday, will make it easier for police to identify and disperse illegal gatherings of more than six people unless it meets one of the exemptions.

Exemptions include, a household or support bubble larger than six, if gatherings are for work or education purposes, weddings, funerals, or organized team sports.

“We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact – making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce,” Johnson said in a statement.

“It is absolutely critical that people now abide by these rules and remember the basics – washing your hands, covering your face, keeping space from others, and getting a test if you have symptoms.”

The statement added the new measures are supported by the government, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance after the UK has seen the number of daily coronavirus cases rise to almost 3,000.

On Tuesday, Britain recorded an increase of 2,460 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 352,560.

5:33 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Colorado governor announces partnership with Apple and Google to allow Covid-19 exposure notifications

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

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

Colorado will launch a partnership with Apple and Google to allow for Covid-19 exposure notifications on cellphones for contact tracing in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, Gov. Jared Polis announced Tuesday.

"We want to use every tool in the toolbox to contain the virus and limit community spread," Polis said during a news briefing.

The technology, called EN Express Opportunity, will roll out at the end of September. It will be available for iOS users who opt-in to use the service, and for Android users as an app.  

Using Bluetooth technology, the service or app will exchange anonymous tokens between phones of people who've been within a certain distance of each other, according to Sarah Tuneberg, director of the Colorado Coronavirus Innovation Response Team.

If a person using the service or app has been near someone who tests positive for coronavirus, the person will receive a push notification about exposure to the virus. People who are using the service and test positive for the virus need to report it. 

Both Polis and Tuneberg both emphasized no personal information is obtained from users.  

"Data security and privacy are of the utmost importance to us. This is a completely anonymized service that contains no personal health information," Tuneberg said.


4:51 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

University of Iowa athletics resumes voluntary and mandatory workouts

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

The University of Iowa Athletics Department has announced it is resuming voluntary and mandatory student-athlete workouts.

Eight days ago, the university had halted all sports programs after reporting 93 positive Covid-19 tests within the athletics community. In the most recent testing period of Aug. 31-Sept. 6, Iowa reports 21 positive tests and 276 that were negative.

As a member of the Big 10 football conference, Iowa’s fall football season was postponed last month by the conference’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors, which cited health and safety concerns related to coronavirus.

4:43 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

University of Tennessee is having a "significant issue" with Covid-19 stemming from fraternities

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

University of Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman gives a Covid-19 update via a Zoom call on Tuesday.
University of Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman gives a Covid-19 update via a Zoom call on Tuesday. University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee is having a “significant issue” with a small portion of its study body, particularly fraternities, in combating the spread of Covid-19 on campus, University Chancellor Donde Plowman said Tuesday in her coronavirus livestream. 

Plowman detailed the disturbing reports of irresponsible behaviors that had been reported stemming from the fraternities. 

“Fraternities leaders communicating to houses how to have parties and avoid being caught, avoid the police. Stories of a fraternity renting space off campus to have their party, crammed with lots of people in close quarters. Telling fraternity members not to get tested or how to get tested so the results aren’t shared with the university,” Plowman said. 

What the numbers look like: The school reported 600 active Covid-19 cases, 592 of which are among students, eight are among employees, and a total of 2,112 people— 1,939 of whom are students — are now in quarantine or in isolation. 

“Our case counts are going up way too fast and we will need more drastic measures to stop the upward trajectory,” Plowman said, adding that the school will need more isolation spaces over time, and is in the process of creating more of that space. 

Plowman said that the school was considering a range of options for enforcement, and that “everything is on the table at this point.” She promised additional announcements on specifics in the days ahead. 

3:41 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Coronavirus has disrupted care for other diseases globally, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks remotely during the Research! America 2020 Summit.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks remotely during the Research! America 2020 Summit. Research! America

Covid-19 has interfered with care and prevention efforts for other diseases around the world, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, it’s been disruptive across the board, not only in the United States but globally,” Fauci said during the Research! America 2020 Summit.

People are missing screening for things “that you need to pay attention to,” such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. And they’re missing follow-up appointments for other conditions. 

“You can wind up getting into a situation where diseases that have nothing to do with Covid, diseases of different types, infection, cancer, autoimmune, inflammatory, they might get neglected and routine checkups that you would need tend to get neglected,” he said.

Fauci said that it is known in the HIV community that disruption of services and availability of drugs can really be a problem.

“Bottom line is, it’s quite disruptive and has deleterious effects on how we handle other diseases,” he said.