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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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.”
11:26 a.m. ET, September 15, 2020

More than 40% of students in New York City public schools have requested the remote learning option

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

A map of the United States waves in a classroom at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City, on September 8.
A map of the United States waves in a classroom at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City, on September 8. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

At least 422,190 students in the New York City Public School System have requested the entirely remotely learning option for the fall, according to data provided by the city’s Department of Education — a little more than 40% of the total 1 million plus students enrolled in the nation’s largest public school system. 

Roughly 58% of students are planning to return to school buildings as part of a hybrid learning model beginning next week, according to the DOE. 

Parents in the New York City public school system were given the option to opt out of the in-person hybrid plan after it was first announced. In August, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 74% of families had said they were planning to participate in in person learning at the time. 

11:23 a.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Bill Gates calls US response to Covid-19 "shocking" and "mismanaged"

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Bill Gates is pictured speaking during an event in Beijing, China, in November 2019.
Bill Gates is pictured speaking during an event in Beijing, China, in November 2019. Hou Yu/China News Service/VCG/Getty Images

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called the US response to Covid-19 “shocking” and “mismanaged” in an interview published on Monday in Stat.

“You know, this has been a mismanaged situation every step of the way,” Gates told Stat. “It’s shocking. It’s unbelievable – the fact that we would be among the worst in the world.” 

Gates said the change to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Covid-19 testing guidelines for people without symptoms “blows the mind." 

He criticized US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and his mischaracterization of findings arounds convalescent plasma. Hahn has acknowledged the misstatement and said criticism of his remarks was “entirely justified.” 

“This is third grade math. I mean, are you kidding?” Gates said in the interview. “The head of the FDA got up and said it was a 35% death reduction where it’s not even a 3% reduction based on just a tiny little subset that was nonstatistical. This is unheard of.” 

Gates also mentioned Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution who is now a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. CNN has reported that Atlas has advocated herd immunity through mass infection in briefings and written pieces in recent months; Atlas has denied pushing a herd immunity strategy in the White House. 

“The administrations now hired this Stanford guy who has no background at all just because he agrees with their crackpot theories,” Gates said.

10:50 a.m. ET, September 15, 2020

All Covid-19 indicators in New York City are under desired thresholds, mayor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

The daily Covid-19 indicators are all under desired thresholds, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

Here's what the numbers in New York City look like:

  • The daily number of people admitted to hospitals for Covid-19 is at 66, under the 200 threshold. The confirmed positivity rate for Covid-19 for those patients is 4.4%.
  • With regard to new reported cases on a 7-day average, with a threshold of 550 cases, the city reports 259.
  • The percent of people who tested positive for Covid-19 city wide is at 1.05% under the 5% threshold. 

Remember: These numbers were released by the city'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

10:44 a.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Pelosi wants the House to stay in session until a Covid-19 stimulus deal is reached

From CNN's Haley Byrd

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference in Washington, DC, on September 10.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference in Washington, DC, on September 10. Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wants the House to remain in session until congressional leaders can reach a coronavirus stimulus deal. 

“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement — an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said during an interview with CNBC.

Her comments came after she had a phone call about the situation with House Democrats on Tuesday morning. 

“We’re optimistic that the White House at least will understand that we have to do some things,” Pelosi added.

Remember: With fewer than two months until the election, the odds for a massive stimulus compromise intended to help bolster small businesses, provide additional unemployment benefits and give more money to schools as they adapt amid the coronavirus pandemic have fallen practically to zero.