September 9 coronavirus news

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

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, September 10, 2020
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11:39 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Pharmacists will be able to administer Covid-19 vaccine to anyone 3 and older, surgeon general says

From CNN's Allison Main

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams announced that the US Department of Health and Human Services will be issuing guidance to expand access to safe and effective coronavirus vaccines.

Adams said, per HHS, when Covid-19 vaccines are made available, state-licensed pharmacists will now be able to administer them to anyone age 3 and older.

"Now, more than ever, we need to help people understand vaccines are safe, vaccines are effective, vaccines are how we achieve health equity and social justice," Adams testified in a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday.

WATCH:

11:25 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

US surgeon general promises that vaccine cost will "not be an obstacle" for Americans

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams arrives for a hearing in Washington, DC, on September 9.
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams arrives for a hearing in Washington, DC, on September 9. Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

The Surgeon General of the United States promises he will not let the cost of a potential Covid-19 vaccine get in the way of getting people vaccinated. 

“As Surgeon General of the United States, I promise you, we will use every federal tool that we have to make sure that cost is not an obstacle for people receiving what will perhaps be the most important and highly anticipated vaccine of our lives," Dr. Jerome Adams said.

Speaking at the same Senate Health Committee hearing, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, agreed with Adams, “100%.”

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11:32 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Health official: "Rigor of a scientific evaluation of safety and efficacy will not be compromised"

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, listens during a hearing in Washington, DC, on September 9.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, listens during a hearing in Washington, DC, on September 9. Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, promised the Senate Health Committee during a hearing on vaccines that “the rigor of a scientific evaluation of safety and efficacy will not be compromised.”

Collins said “this is foremost in all our minds. We cannot compromise here.”

The comments came a day after drug giant AstraZeneca said it had paused global trials of its coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers.

“The announcement yesterday about the AstraZeneca vaccine is a concrete example of how even a single case of an unexpected illness is sufficient to require a clinical hold for the trial in multiple countries,” Collins said.

Collins said traditionally, vaccine development requires many years of work, but that is very different during Covid-19.

“In some instances, we have done that by carrying out steps in parallel that are traditionally done in sequence. We've eliminated downtime by moving into new phases before data from the previous phase is completely analyzed. We have, as the chairman said, started to manufacture doses of all these vaccines before we know if they work, understanding that we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars for vaccine doses that we may have to throw away if they don't work.”

“As a scientist, I'm excited that the pace of discovery is allowing us to respond to this crisis in record time. As a physician, I'm hopeful when I think of the millions of lives that have been saved from other diseases through vaccination, and the millions more that we can save by developing a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19,” Collins concluded.

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10:55 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Nearly 14% of the people in this Florida county have had Covid-19

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

Nearly 14% of the population of Lafayette County, Florida, a small rural county in the northern part of the state, has at some point during the pandemic contracted coronavirus, according to the Florida Department of Health (FLDOH). 

The population of Lafayette County is 8,744, and 1,213 people have had Covid-19, per FLDOH. The FLDOH also reports the following:

  • About 87% of those infected are male. 
  • 59% are between the age of 25 and 44. 
  • 57% are White, 12% are Hispanic and 28% are Black.

More on this: Lafayette is the Florida county with the highest number of infections per capita in the state. It even surpasses Miami-Dade County, which has been considered the epicenter of the crisis. In Miami-Dade, nearly 6% of the population has at some point contracted Covid-19, per the FLDOH.

So why has such a high percent of the population in Lafayette County, Florida contracted the coronavirus? The Mayo Annex Correctional Institution in Lafayette County has reported 954 infections in inmates, according to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC). In August, the FDC announced an outbreak of 639 inmates at the facility, which houses about 1,400 inmates. 

Kerry Waldron, Florida Department of Health Administrator for Lafayette and Suwannee Counties said a large portion of the infections are related to a correctional facility. “A high percentage of those incarcerated are between the ages of 25 and 44,” Waldron said.

One inmate has died at the Mayo Annex facility, according to the FLDOH. So far during the pandemic, 111 inmates have died in Florida prisons, per the FDC.

10:50 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Hong Kong’s universal testing program extended for 3 days

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong in Seoul and journalists Jadyn Sham and Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

A person in Hong Kong gets tested for Covid-19 on September 8.
A person in Hong Kong gets tested for Covid-19 on September 8. Li Zhihua/China News Service/Getty Images

Hong Kong will extend its universal coronavirus testing program for three days until Sept. 14, the city’s government announced on Wednesday.

Among 122 community testing centers, 57 community centers across all the 18 districts will continue to operate from Sept. 12 to 14. 

1.36 million people had registered at the testing centers since the launch of the program on Sept. 3.

Hong Kong launched the universal testing program on Sept. 1 to provide a one-off free virus testing for all citizens to “identify asymptomatic Covid-19 carriers as early as possible.”

Hong Kong confirmed six new coronavirus infections for the second day in a row on Wednesday, including one case from the universal testing program. 

10:22 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

US health experts say AstraZeneca pause on Covid-19 vaccine trial is proof of due process

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Health experts are applauding AstraZeneca for pausing its coronavirus vaccine trials due to 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, but Dr. Abdul El-Sayed said the pause is "reassuring" because it shows that the process is not being rushed.

"They're going through the proper checks to make sure everything is safe and effective," the epidemiologist told CNN Wednesday.

President Trump's escalated pressure on administration health officials to expedite work both on a coronavirus vaccine raised concerns over the process that could lead to the approval of a candidate. Some experts have pointed out that public trust in a coronavirus vaccine is quickly dropping.

With this skepticism, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, also lauded AstraZeneca for observing due diligence.

"There's an enormous vaccine hesitancy in this country at baseline. And it is so much more important to have a vaccine that we trust that comes in February than one that we're skeptical about that comes in November. Because that skeptical vaccine is going to be really hard to overcome in the long term," she said.

"This is exactly how vaccine trials are supposed to work. When you see an adverse event, the due diligence needs to occur to see if it's related to the vaccine and interrogate it and make sure it's safe to move forward, Dr. Walensky added.

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10:17 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Netherlands records highest daily Covid-19 infections in months

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

The Netherlands in the past day has recorded the highest number of newly reported Covid-19 infections for months, the county’s health minister said on Wednesday.

“We do see the numbers rising now,” Hugo de Jonge, who is also deputy prime minister, said in a virtual question and answer session with the public.

There were at least 1,140 newly reported Covid-19 cases in the past day, de Jonge said. That is approaching the Netherlands’ single-day record, which was set on April 10, at 1,335 new infections.

“This is of course much higher than yesterday, and than the day before yesterday,” De Jonge said. “It is therefore not going in the right direction.”

Infections in the past week in the Netherlands (Sept. 2 to 8) were already up 34% over the week previous. This daily total of 1,140 new cases is another 32% increase over last week’s average.

De Jonge said that he hoped that the government would be able to respond locally, and avoid a harsh national measures, “because of course we know much more about where the virus is, and we can enforce much more precise measures. And that is what we are now trying to do.” 

10:16 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Marriott is laying off about 17% of its corporate workforce

From CNN’s Jordan Valinsky

Marriott International is laying off 673 employees at its corporate headquarters in Maryland, a sign that the pandemic-stricken travel industry isn't close to recovering.

The Maryland-based hotel chain announced the layoffs in a Work Adjustment and Retraining Notice. Marriott employs about 4,000 people at its Bethesda headquarters.

Marriott has furloughed thousands of hotel employees as demand dried up. It's made no secret how badly Covid-19 is destroying business, saying in May that the pandemic is "having a more severe and sustained financial impact on Marriott’s business than 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, combined."

The stock is down 30% for the year.

10:08 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Portugal reports highest daily Covid-19 cases since April

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

People in Cascais, Portugal, are briefed by a health technician before being tested for Covid-19 on June 23.
People in Cascais, Portugal, are briefed by a health technician before being tested for Covid-19 on June 23. Horacio Villalobos/Corbis/Getty Images

Portugal has reported 646 new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours, the highest daily increase since April 20. 

The new infections increase the incidence rate in the country to 51.2 per 100,000 in the past 14 days. The incidence rate has been rising over the past few weeks. 

In addition to the new infections, Portuguese health authorities also reported three additional deaths from Covid-19. 

Last week both Scotland and Wales added Portugal to their list of countries whose travelers are required to quarantine on arrival. Despite a recent increase in cases, England maintained the Iberian country on its quarantine-free list.