September 15 coronavirus news

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6:33 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

WHO chief scientist says pre-Covid life may not return until 2022

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

It might not be until 2022 when the world can begin thinking about returning to "pre-Covid" life, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief science officer at the World Health Organization in Geneva, said Tuesday.

"We're looking at 2022 at least before enough people start getting the vaccine to build immunity. So for a long time to come, we have to maintain the same kind of measures that are currently being put in place with physical distancing, the masking and respiratory hygiene," said Swaminathan, speaking to reporters during a virtual meeting hosted by the United Nations Foundation.

"Those will have to continue after the vaccine starts getting rolled out, because we need 60% to 70% of the population to have immunity before you will start seeing a dramatic reduction in transmission of this virus," Swaminathan said. "We also don't know how long these vaccines will protect for — that's the other big question mark: How long does immunity last? And it's possible that you will need a booster."

Swaminathan added that health officials are currently looking to control the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, rather than eliminate it at this point.

While a timeline remains uncertain and difficult to predict, "I think it's safe to say that it could be 2022 when we will start thinking about going back to pre-Covid normal life," Swaminathan said.

Swaminathan added that she doesn't think the coronavirus will become a seasonal virus as time goes on, but instead we could expect to see "ups and downs" in cases and transmission.

5:26 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Boston will continue to use streets and sidewalks for outdoor dining until December

From CNN’s Nakia McNabb and Gisela Crespo

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Tuesday he is extending the city's outdoor dining program until December. It was originally set to expire Oct. 31.

This means restaurants can continue to use private outdoor spaces as well as public spaces on streets and sidewalks, Walsh said during a briefing. 

“We're going to waive application fees for outdoor dining propane heaters in dining areas. You still need a permit from the fire department, the safety regulations around their use remains 100% in place. But the fee will be waived so we're trying to help our restaurants continues to take advantage of outdoor space as long as possible," Walsh said.

Restaurants will be able to use electric heaters without a permit as long as the cords don't cross the sidewalk," the mayor said.

The latest numbers: Boston reported at least 51 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to approximately 16,245 cases in the city, Walsh said. There were two deaths over the weekend, bringing the total number of deaths to approximately 757. 

The positive Covid-19 test rate in Boston is 1.6%, down from 1.7% last week but Walsh encouraged residents to continue adhering to mask and social distancing guidance to avoid a spike in numbers. Walsh said 2,700 Boston residents were tested every day on average last week, including college students.

4:50 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Fauci says "it's just a matter of time" before AstraZeneca vaccine trial resumes in the US

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31 in Washington.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31 in Washington. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci said “it’s just a matter of time” before the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial resumes in the United States. 

The trial went on pause worldwide last week while doctors looked into the illness of a Phase 3 clinical trial participant who received the vaccine and became ill. 

“It would be unusual to completely stop a trial on the basis of one single adverse event,” Fauci told CNN on Tuesday afternoon. 

The study participant who became ill is enrolled in a trial in the UK being run by the University of Oxford, which is working with AstraZeneca on the vaccine, since they developed.

The UK arm of the trial has already resumed. In its information for trial participants, the university mentions that study volunteers “developed unexplained neurological symptoms including changed sensation or limb weakness” and that “after independent review, these illnesses were either considered unlikely to be associated with the vaccine or there was insufficient evidence to say for certain that the illnesses were or were not related to the vaccine.” 

Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said doctors leading the trial sites in the US will be told to look out for similar symptoms. 

“You have to be extra special careful and watch out to see if it happens again, and then if it does, it becomes an entirely different situation,” he said.

4:28 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Her husband died from Covid-19. This is what she wants you to know about the impact of the virus.

Sondra Wolfe speaks during an interview with CNN affiliate KCCI. Her husband died of Covid-19.
Sondra Wolfe speaks during an interview with CNN affiliate KCCI. Her husband died of Covid-19. KCCI

After her husband died of Covid-19, Sondra Wolfe wants people to see the human lives behind the numbers.

"People see the numbers and so many of them don't care. I want to put a human face and a family, what a family is going through, the grief that this has caused and maybe change some minds that this is a real thing," Wolfe told CNN on Tuesday.

She described her husband, Mike, as a great father, grandfather and husband. She said losing him is leaving a big hole in their family and community.

"He took care of all of us. He was just an all around great guy," Wolfe said.

She said it is frustrating that President Trump and other federal leaders did not act on the severity of the pandemic earlier.

"Other countries have this under control and are protecting their citizens, and that they've made this political and about an election and about ratings, just makes me angry. This is about people and lives," she said.

"It is not going away," she added. "It is not political. It is a health crisis and we need to do what we can to take care of each other."

She urged people to wear masks and have empathy, saying that simple action could save lives.

"If you would pass this on to somebody else, how would it make you feel. If your selfishness was responsible for somebody's death," Wolfe said.

Watch:

4:16 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Ohio reports highest single-day death count since early May

From CNN’s Taylor Romine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced 87 Covid-19 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, the highest number of deaths reported in one day since early May. 

He clarified that while the deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, it doesn't mean the deaths occurred in that time frame. About 83% of the deaths occurred within the last month, while the rest happened before then, he said. 

DeWine said there have also been at least 1,001 new Covid-19 cases – bringing the total to approximately 139,485 cases with a 3.6% positivity rate. There have been at least 4,506 total deaths reported in the state.

The governor said that in a recent conversation with university presidents in Ohio about the return to campus, many said that the major issue they are facing is large student gatherings without masks. DeWine encouraged students to wear their masks in any social situation and to remain outdoors whenever possible.

On the economy: DeWine also announced the launch of a new work program meant to help those lost their jobs during the pandemic find new positions. The program, which will first launch in Cleveland, will pair each person with a coach that will identify their strengths and provide any additional job training that is needed, he said.

The state is currently working with 30 employers on the job program and will provide job fairs to connect applicants and companies, he said.

Note: These numbers were released by the state of Ohio, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:08 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Stocks finish mostly higher

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe  

US stocks were mostly in the green at the end of Tuesday. While the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite added another day of gains, the Dow finished flat.

Here's where things finished:

  • The S&P ended 0.5% higher.
  • The Nasdaq closed up 1.2%.

The market had started the session higher following positive news about China’s economic recovery, and some better-than-expected economic data.

Remember: As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might still change slightly.

3:39 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Miami Beach mayor calls on Florida governor to enact statewide mask mandate

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber speaks during an interview in Miami Beach, Florida, in June.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber speaks during an interview in Miami Beach, Florida, in June. Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved Miami-Dade County into phase two of the reopening plan yesterday – and today Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber fired back in a scathing letter.

“Last time we reopened our economy, our County experienced a surge in the virus that has killed 2,328 residents,” Gelber said in the letter. “With no meaningful ability to control surges and the resulting community spread, the virus swelled to unimagined levels.”

Gelber blamed the state for failing to implement an “effective and sufficiently staffed contact tracing program” in Miami-Dade County and for sending mixed messages regarding mask use. 

“As we reopen, our positivity rates are actually worse than they were the last time we reopened,” the letter said. “So the only way this doesn’t become déjà vu all over again, is if we do something different.” 

Gelber urged DeSantis to improve contact tracing, to consider using a digital contact-tracing app and to mandate masks statewide.

CNN has reached out to the governor’s press office for comment.

3:23 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

New York reports Covid-19 infection rate of 1%

From CNN's Laura Ly

New York state on Tuesday reported a Covid-19 infection rate of 1%, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The 1% rate was derived from the 73,678 Covid-19 tests reported to state authorities on Monday — 766 of which were positive, the release said. 

The latest Covid-19 positivity rate follows 38-straight days of a rate below 1% in the state. 

New York also reported 11 new Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday. So far, New York has recorded 445,714 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and 25,405 people who have died.

One thing to note: These numbers were released by New York state, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

9:12 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

WHO official says countries need to choose what's important: Bars or schools?

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, speaks during a Covid-19 press briefing in March.
Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, speaks during a Covid-19 press briefing in March.  Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Countries that are going into the winter months will have to choose between having bars and nightclubs open, or schools in session, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said Tuesday.

“We have to sustain pressure on this virus, we have to reduce transmission at community level in order to lower the risk to those older and vulnerable people and to maintain an environment in which our children can continue to attend school,” Ryan said during a briefing in Geneva. 

“So, what is more important? Are children back at school? Are the nightclubs and the bars open?” he said. “I think these are decisions that we have to make in coming into the winter months.” 

Since there isn’t yet a vaccine, in order to keep children in school and protect older and vulnerable people, there is no alternative to sustained surveillance, test and trace, quick results, cluster investigation, isolation of cases and quarantining of contacts, Ryan said.

“I’m sorry to be boring, and I’m sorry to keep saying this over and over and over again, but there are no alternatives,” he said. “This is what we must do.” 

“If we are to serve our children and those older and vulnerable people in our population who might die this winter in these countries, then we must sustain these other activities and these cannot be sustained without government commitment to do this and society’s commitment to participate and be part of this,” he said.