September 14 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, September 15, 2020
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11:25 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

Genetics company says new study strengthens idea that blood type affects Covid-19 risk

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

The contents of a 23andMe genetic testing kit as seen in Silver Spring, Maryland, on January 3, 2018.
The contents of a 23andMe genetic testing kit as seen in Silver Spring, Maryland, on January 3, 2018. Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA

Genetics company 23andMe says a new study strengthens the idea that blood type is associated with coronavirus risk, although it’s not clear by how much and whether there’s any way for doctors to act on it.

Scientists at 23andMe looked at the DNA of more than 1 million people who have taken its DNA test. They found more than 15,000 who said they had a positive coronavirus test and 1,131 who said they were hospitalized. 

The scientists said the data strengthens the evidence for a role for the ABO blood group system in Covid-19 host genetics.

“Our data supports a role in susceptibility to infection, suggesting that blood group O is protective in contrast to non-O blood groups,” the team wrote in a pre-print report on MedRxiv, which has not been reviewed by other experts. They did not say by how much, but other studies have found it is a very small factor.

Other factors: Far more important than blood type, however, are other factors, including obesity, which more than doubled the risk of hospitalization, the study found. Blacks and Latinos were also at higher risk than Whites – all findings that reflect what other studies have found.

Research limitations: There are many limitations to the research. 23andMe relies on people to report their own symptoms and test results. People who are most severely ill or who die would be unlikely to have their results recorded in the survey. Plus, the federal government says fewer than 10% of people who have been infected with coronavirus have been tested for it, so results are far from complete.

10:59 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

ICE facility didn’t provide adequate medical care to detainees, whistleblower says 

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Georgia didn’t provide adequate medical care to detainees or take necessary precautions to avoid the spread of Covid-19, according to a whistleblower complaint filed to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general Monday.

The whistleblower is Dawn Wooten, a licensed practical nurse employed by the center who’s represented by the Government Accountability Project and Project South, a social justice organization. 

Wooten, who worked for the Irwin County Detention Center run by LaSalle Corrections until July, said the facility underreported Covid-19 cases, didn't provide appropriate medical attention to detainees exhibiting symptoms, and refused to test immigrants for Covid-19 --all of which left the detainee population vulnerable to the virus. 

Immigrants detained at the center shared their concerns with Project South.

“I don’t want to die here. Please release me, let me be with my family … A lot of people are afraid,” one immigrant said, according to the complaint.

The interviews were conducted between June and September, said Priyanka Bhatt, staff attorney for Project South.

“It’s absolutely jarring to see the lack of Covid-19 protocol both for detained immigrants and for the employees,” Bhatt said. “It’s really frightening when employees don’t know who’s tested positive and likewise the detained immigrants don’t know either.”

A broader pattern: The allegations are similar to those surfacing around the country from immigrants held at ICE facilities, according to court documents, lawyers, and other whistleblowers. They include treating Covid-19 symptoms with over-the-counter cold medication, lack of social distancing, and transfers of detainees despite heightened risk of spreading the virus.

Wooten, according to the complaint, had “pleaded with ICDC Warden David Paulk in March when the facility had its first COVID-19 case to stop all transfers of individuals in and out the facility, but the Warden did not listen.”

According to ICE statistics, there have been 42 total confirmed Covid-19 cases at the Irwin County Detention Center. There have been more than 5,700 overall at ICE facilities nationwide.  

CNN reached out to ICE for comment on the allegations.

10:30 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

CDC has been in "trench warfare" with US administration, infectious disease specialist says

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

CDC headquarters is seen on October 13, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia
CDC headquarters is seen on October 13, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

The people responsible for a weekly report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been in “trench warfare” with Washington officials over the report’s scientific integrity, infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner said Monday. 

Schaffner said he was “very disturbed” by the news that Trump-appointed officials at the Department of Health and Human Services pushed the CDC to change its weekly science reports so they would not undermine President Donald Trump’s political messages.

“I've since learned that the people who run that program, who put out that bulletin, have been in trench warfare with the folks in Washington,” Schaffner told CNN. “They have struggled and succeeded, I think, in maintaining the scientific integrity of those reports, but that struggle continues.”

Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who spent a brief time at CDC and who often works closely with the agency, added that it’s “totally inappropriate” for Washington to try to influence the report, but the American people can still trust the information they are getting from the CDC.

“We can trust what we're getting. These are professional people,” said Schaffner. “They're just working on behalf of the American people.”

10:07 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

Thousands of people received erroneous messages saying they tested positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Dianne Gallagher

A data vendor in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina sent thousands of texts and emails to people saying they were positive for Covid-19 -- while they actually weren't, according to a statement from Mecklenburg County manager Dena Diorio. 

Due to an error during "routine maintenance" last Friday, 6,727 text messages and 541 emails were sent to individuals who were in county vendor Health Space’s system. But according to Diorio, the Health Department never texts or emails positive or negative Covid results to those affected.  

The county worked with Health Space to contact everyone who received the incorrect information and to tell them to disregard the results, Diorio said.

In an email to the board of county commissioners Monday afternoon, the county manager said no personal information was compromised, and that it took Health Space less than an hour to correct the problem.

10:11 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

UAE approves "emergency use" of coronavirus vaccine for frontline workers

From CNN’s Nada AlTaher and Sarah El Sirgany in Abu Dhabi

A staff member takes out samples of the Covid-19 inactivated vaccine at a vaccine production plant of China National Pharmaceutical Group Sinopharm, in Beijing, on April 11.
A staff member takes out samples of the Covid-19 inactivated vaccine at a vaccine production plant of China National Pharmaceutical Group Sinopharm, in Beijing, on April 11. Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua/Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates has approved the “emergency use” of a coronavirus vaccine for frontline workers, according to the country’s health minister.

“Studies show that the vaccine is efficient and safe and showed a positive response in generating antibodies,” Abdul Rahman al-Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said at a televised press briefing Monday. 
“The vaccine will be optional for frontline workers most exposed to the virus,” al-Owais said. 

The announcement of the emergency use vaccine came as the minister was discussing ongoing phase 3 trials in the UAE of a vaccine developed by China’s state-owned Sinopharm pharmaceutical company.  

China has been using an experimental vaccine developed by Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG) on people who work in high-risk professions since July, including frontline medical professionals, a senior official from the national health commission revealed in August.

9:37 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

Nevada governor on Trump's visit: "He only cares about himself"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Gov. Steve Sisolak gives an update on the state's Covid-19 response in Las Vegas, on September 3.
Gov. Steve Sisolak gives an update on the state's Covid-19 response in Las Vegas, on September 3. Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal/AP

Nevada's Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak skewered President Trump for hosting a large indoor campaign rally in his state with little social distancing, telling CNN's Erin Burnett that the President acted selfishly. 

“He only cares about himself," said Sisolak.

"He knew what the rules were. He chose to show callous disregard in a reckless, selfish irresponsible way. There's no other way to put it," the governor added.

In holding the rally, Trump was defying an executive order from Sisolak, who has banned gatherings of more than 50 people. On Sunday, Trump defended the Henderson event, telling the Las Vegas Journal-Review he did not believe he was subject to the rules, and added the he felt safe.

“I’m on a stage and it’s very far away,” Trump said. “And so I’m not at all concerned.”

Sisolak today blasted Trump's defense of the event, calling his comments "a joke."

"That's just the ego and the arrogance," said Sisolak. "That's just a joke. We don't make laws and say they apply to everybody except Donald J. Trump."

The governor continued: "It's absurd for him to think the rules didn't apply to him... I think he just doesn't much care."

Sisolak also responded to new tapes obtained by CNN in which Trump told veteran journalist Bob Woodward "nothing more could have been done" to stop Covid-19's spread in the US. Sisolak called those remarks "absolutely ridiculous."

"So much more could have been done if there would had been an organized national response we would have saved thousands and thousands of lives but it wasn't important to the President so he chose to just ignore it," he said.

7:17 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

More than 194,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

There are at least 6,550,629 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 194,441 people have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

So far on Monday, Johns Hopkins has reported 31,056 new cases and 340 deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

7:14 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

North Georgia Technical College president dies from Covid-19

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

The president of North Georgia Technical College, Dr. Mark Ivester, died Saturday after a month long battle with Covid-19, the college announced Sunday. 

According to his obituary, the 57-year-old passed away Sept. 12 at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton.

“Once again, please continue to pray for Eleanor and his entire family. Thank you for all the love and support you have shown them and one another during this time. We are all devastated and will miss him terribly,” the college said in a statement.

Ivester served on the college's executive team for more than 20 years before his appointment to president on August 2016, his obituary said.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp offered his condolences Sunday, saying his family was praying for Ivester's loved ones, colleagues, and community: “We ask God to give them all comfort in this difficult time.” 

The state of Georgia on Monday reported 1,055 new cases of Covid-19 and 20 new fatalities. There have been a total of 295,337 Covid-19 cases and 6,353 Covid-19-related deaths in the state.

Remember: 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.

6:56 p.m. ET, September 14, 2020

Former DHS Secretary Johnson calls Trump's Covid-19 remarks "absurd"

From CNN's Leinz Vales

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 21, 2018, in Washington.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 21, 2018, in Washington. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Monday that President Trump's comments that "nothing more could have been done" to handle the coronavirus pandemic was "absurd." 

"By mid-April here in the northeast in the New York-New Jersey area where I live, the densest part of the country, we knew how to flatten the curve," Johnson said. "We knew how to slow the spread of the virus through aggressive physical distancing, through hygiene, wearing masks, but after April even though things slowed down here in the northeast, we had the spikes in the rest of the country simply because our national leadership, our President, allowed this to become a political issue."

Context: Trump's comments were from an Aug. 14 call he made to veteran journalist Bob Woodward. It was their 19th conversation, following 18 interviews that formed a key component of Woodward's book "Rage." Trump had privately told Woodward in February he knew critical details about how deadly the virus was, and in March admitted he was playing it down.

"This didn't have to be this way," Johnson said. "You have a nation on Earth with the mightiest public health care apparatus, that has had the most dismal public health care response and it didn't have to be this way."