September 15 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020
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2:15 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

University of Arizona is urging students to shelter in place until the end of the month 

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Students pass in front of a sign that reads "Mask Or Face Covering Required To Enter" at the University of Arizona in Tucson on August 24.
Students pass in front of a sign that reads "Mask Or Face Covering Required To Enter" at the University of Arizona in Tucson on August 24. Cheney Orr/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The University of Arizona has issued a recommendation, in accordance with the local county health department, strongly urging students to shelter in place until Sept. 30, the university announced, following a large number of positive Covid-19 cases.

Exceptions include obtaining food, attending work, seeking medical treatment and going outside where social distancing is possible. 

The school is also limiting in person instruction to “essential courses” only until Sept. 27. 

The University of Arizona recorded 261 positive Covid-19 tests on Monday, according to the school’s coronavirus dashboard, and has seen roughly 1,400 cases total since July 31.

 

2:04 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

"Proving that a vaccine works is easier than proving that it's safe," former CDC director says

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden testifies during a House subcommittee hearing on Covid-19 in Washington, DC, in May.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden testifies during a House subcommittee hearing on Covid-19 in Washington, DC, in May. Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Proving that a vaccine works is easier than proving that it’s safe,” former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Tuesday.

During an event hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Frieden said he has two safety concerns regarding a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

“First are the Kawasaki-like syndrome and illnesses that we've seen in children, and possibly similar illnesses in adults,” Frieden said. “That is an immune reaction, and therefore there's a theoretical chance that some vaccines could create that kind of reaction.”

Frieden, who is currently president and CEO of the global health initiative Resolve to Save Lives, emphasized that he is not predicting this will happen, but suggesting that we do due diligence in watching out for it.

“The second concern is sometimes called antibody-dependent enhancement,” Frieden said. “This has been seen in some old vaccines, half a century ago, but it also was seen in an animal model of one SARS vaccine.”

“The risk there would be some people – after vaccination, if they then became infected with Covid – could get sicker then they would have otherwise,” he explained.

Frieden said that we likely will not know everything we need to about vaccines until they are given to thousands, or maybe even millions of people.

“But we need to track safety at every step of the way and be completely open with the public about it,” he said.

1:34 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

New York governor says he will not ban trick-or-treaters on Halloween

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Children go trick-or-treating in New York City in 2019. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he would not ban trick-or-treaters on Halloween amid the pandemic.
Children go trick-or-treating in New York City in 2019. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he would not ban trick-or-treaters on Halloween amid the pandemic. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he will not ban trick-or-treaters on Halloween amid the pandemic.

Speaking on CNN affiliate News 12 Long Island, Cuomo said he didn’t think it was appropriate, according to his office. 

“I would not ban trick-or-treaters going door to door. I don't think that's appropriate. You have neighbors — if you want to go knock on your neighbor's door, God bless you and I'm not going to tell you not to. If you want to go for a walk with your child through the neighborhood, I'm not gonna tell you you can't take your child to the neighborhood, I'm not going to do that — I'll give you my advice and guidance and then you will make a decision what you do that night,” Cuomo said, according to his office. 

1:23 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Bill Gates says he thinks US will come around to funding Covid-19 vaccines for poor countries

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Bill Gates looks on during the New York Times Dealbook event in New York City in 2019.
Bill Gates looks on during the New York Times Dealbook event in New York City in 2019. Mike Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times

In an interview with the New York Times, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates described optimism that the United States would ultimately help provide Covid-19 vaccines for poor countries around the world.

“It’s my disposition,” Gates said in the interview, published Monday. “Plus, I’ve got to call these people up and make the pitch to them that this really makes sense – and I totally, totally believe it makes sense.” 

The Times said Gates was referring to leaders in the White House and Congress, who he has lobbied for $4 billion for Covid-19 vaccines for poorer countries.

“As they say,” Gates said, “the US government – after it’s tried every other thing – does the right thing.”   

The Goalkeepers Report from the Gates Foundation, which published Monday, showed that a large number of deaths could be prevented if Covid-19 vaccines were distributed to all countries based on their populations, rather than to rich countries first. But Gates acknowledged that this will not be soon. 

Gates said it “looks selfish” that the US avoided joining global Covid-19 vaccine development efforts and focused on deals with vaccine companies that ensure millions of doses are allocated to the United States, but he did not feel it was unjustified. 

“You’re not going to succeed in getting the US to treat itself as just a random 5% of the world’s population,” Gates said, noting that American taxpayers have covered much of the costs for clinical trials and vaccine manufacturing.

Gates told the Times he expected by next year, regardless of who wins the election, the US would come around to paying much of the estimated $4 billion needed to get Covid-19 vaccines to others around the world. Congress has repeatedly kept funds for AIDS, malaria and childhood vaccinations in the foreign aid budget, Gates said, despite attempts to slash them; with the idea that no country is safe from Covid-19 until every country is, “there’s a better global argument for generosity on this one than there is for H.I.V. or malaria,” he said. 

 

12:59 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Entire Irish cabinet self-isolating and parliament suspended

From CNN's Hilary McGann

Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the speaker of the Dáil in Ireland, has announced that all Irish cabinet members are now self-isolating.

The Dáil, the Irish lower house, is also suspended until at least next Tuesday. 

12:33 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

NYU places entire dorm on quarantine following several reported cases of Covid-19

From CNN’s Meridith Edwards

A student moves belongings into NYU's Rubin Hall on August 19.
A student moves belongings into NYU's Rubin Hall on August 19. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

New York University has instructed all residents and employees in one of their dormitories to quarantine until at least Tuesday night, following a diagnosis of six positive cases out of roughly 400 students living in the building, the university announced in its latest campus update.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are also retesting all residents of Rubin Hall (and employees, too), and instructed them on Saturday to begin quarantining until at least Tuesday night,” administrators said. “We hope to have the results of Monday’s tests back by Tuesday evening and can evaluate, in consultation with the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, what steps to take after that, which may well include extending the quarantine.”

NYU has reported a total of 65 cases since Aug. 1, according to the school’s coronavirus dashboard — returning an overall positivity rate of .19%. The school has reported 48 cases in the most recent 14-day period, returning a positivity rate of .31%.

11:53 a.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Fauci says a national mask mandate "probably would not work"

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

Dr. Anthony Fauci said a national mask mandate “probably would not work.”

Speaking during a news conference with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, Fauci said, “There is such a degree of variability of accepting mandates throughout the country.”

Fauci added this has been discussed “in great detail at the level of the White House coronavirus task force.”

“If the citizens of a particular state, a city, a county or what have you, are really in lockstep with the authority, that does it – there’s not a big problem,” he said.

However, issues arise when a majority of the population in an area do not agree with the mandate – and that begs the question: How do you enforce the mandate?

Fauci said anything that puts an “authoritative statement to the citizenry often is met with a considerable amount of pushback.”

“The bottom line answer to your question is that a national mandate probably would not work,” he said.
11:57 a.m. ET, September 15, 2020

SeaWorld lays off nearly 1,900 employees due to pandemic

From CNN's Stephanie Gallman

Visitors enter the SeaWorld amusement park in Orlando, Florida, on June 11, following the park's reopening after an almost three-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Visitors enter the SeaWorld amusement park in Orlando, Florida, on June 11, following the park's reopening after an almost three-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Zack Wittman/Bloomberg/Getty Images

SeaWorld has laid off at least 1,896 employees, due to “significant and sustained” effects from the Covid-19 pandemic, Kyle Miller, Park President of SeaWorld Orlando said in a letter to the State of Florida.

The letter is a requirement of employers in Florida, who must submit a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) alerting local government when a mass layoff occurs.  

SeaWorld closed its parks on March 16 and within weeks had temporary furloughed the vast majority of its workforce. Though the parks reopened at a reduced operating and guest capacity in June, “self-imposed limitations, consumer concerns and other factors” have made the recovery slow and have forced the company to make permanent the temporary furloughs. 

The layoff touches nearly all positions at SeaWorld, including waiters and waitresses, security officers, performers, sales clerks and photographers.  

“SeaWorld intends to accomplish this mass layoff with the least amount of disruption to the lives of its ambassadors and their families, and the Orlando community,” Miller said in the letter.

11:51 a.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Bill Gates says the FDA has lost credibility during the coronavirus pandemic 

From CNN Health’s Andrea Diaz

Philanthropist Bill Gates said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that the US Food and Drug Administration has lost credibility during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We saw with the completely bungled plasma statements that when you start pressuring people to say optimistic things, they go completely off the rails. The FDA lost a lot of credibility there,” Gates told Bloomberg's Erik Schatzker.

“Historically, just like the CDC was viewed as the best in the world, the FDA had that same reputation as a top-notch regulator,” Gates said. “But there’s been some cracks with some of the things they’ve said at the commissioner level.” 

In a Stat interview published Monday, Gates criticized FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn’s mischaracterization of data about convalescent plasma as a Covid-19 treatment. Hahn has previously acknowledged his misstatement and said criticism of his remarks was “entirely justified.” 

On Bloomberg Television, Gates also spoke about his frustration with the lack of US funding for vaccinations in the developing world.

“The inequity of this -- whether it’s between citizens in the country, blue collar versus white collar, blacks experiencing a higher sickness rate than others -- poor countries can’t borrow money and spend money like the U.S. and other rich countries have,” Gates said. “Almost every dimension of inequity has been accentuated here.”