September 16 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Ed Upright and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 12:51 a.m. ET, September 17, 2020
40 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:31 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Floridan Covid-19 deaths near 13,000, state reports

From CNN's Melissa Alonso  

Florida health officials reported 152 resident deaths on Wednesday, bringing the resident death toll to 12,939, according to the Florida Department of Health (DOH).  

Florida health officials report 161 non-Florida resident deaths in the state as well, DOH data shows.

DOH reported 2,355 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the state’s total to 671,201.

Note: These numbers were released by Florida’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   

1:27 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Documents outline federal government plans to distribute free Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

Sandra Rodriguez, 63, receives a Covid-19 vaccination from Yaquelin De La Cruz at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13.
Sandra Rodriguez, 63, receives a Covid-19 vaccination from Yaquelin De La Cruz at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Federal documents released Wednesday provide new details about the government’s plan to distribute Covid-19 vaccines for free once approved or authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

“We’re dealing in a world of great uncertainty,” Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the US Department of Health Human Services, said during a briefing with reporters on Wednesday. “We don't know the timing of when we'll have a vaccine. We don't know the quantities. We don't know the efficacy of those vaccines.” 

He noted that vaccines being tested have different transport and storage requirement; some require a second dose at 21 or 28 days after the first; and some require different needles and syringes.

“I think the message we want you to leave with is we are prepared for all of those uncertainties,” Mango said. 

Here are key things to know about the plan:

Limited early supply

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine distribution playbook says that for planning purposes, state and local health agencies should assume “limited COVID-19 vaccine doses may be available by early November 2020” if a vaccine is authorized or licensed by the FDA, but the supply may increase substantially in 2021. The initial supply is expected to go to health care workers, other essential workers and people at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19. 

The US Department of Defense, CDC and some parts of HHS are coordinating the supply, production and distribution of vaccines. Vaccine administration sites may be limited early on to target particular populations and storage requirements. Later on, sites could expand to include pediatric and adult health care providers and pharmacies. 

IT infrastructure

The effort requires extensive data monitoring to track vaccines, handle claims and payment, identify who needs a second a dose and to monitor outcomes and potential adverse events. Operation Warp Speed will construct and integrate IT architecture to meet these needs, according to the strategy document.

Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski from Operation Warp Speed said during the briefing Wednesday that databases to track vaccines already exist at state and pharmacy levels. “The hard part is being able to get the databases to talk with one another,” he said, for example, so that he could get a vaccine at a public health center and then get the correct second dose weeks later, perhaps at a pharmacy in a different location. 

Cost

On cost, the distribution strategy says the objective is “to ensure no one desiring vaccination will face an economic barrier to receiving one.”

“The federal government is procuring hundreds of millions of doses of safe and effective vaccines, and has contracted with McKesson for purposes of vaccine distribution, such that no American will be charged for either the COVID-19 vaccine or its distribution,” the strategy document says. 

Vaccine information campaign

The strategy document says an information campaign led by HHS public affairs “will focus on vaccine safety and efficacy, and target key populations and communities to ensure maximum vaccine acceptance.” 

“Identifying the right messages to promote vaccine confidence, countering misinformation, and targeting outreach to vulnerable and at-risk populations will be necessary to achieve high coverage,” it says.

1:22 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

A mask may provide better protection against Covid-19 than a vaccine, CDC director says

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield speaks at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on September 16 in Washington, DC. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield speaks at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on September 16 in Washington, DC.  Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

Wearing a face mask might provide better protection against Covid-19 than a vaccine, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during Wednesday's Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

"I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70% and if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will," Redfield explained, adding that the American public has not yet embraced the use of face masks to a level that could effectively control the outbreak.

"So I do want to keep asking the American public to take the responsibility, particularly the 18 to 25 year olds where we're seeing the outbreak in America continue to go like this," Redfield said.

Watch:

12:31 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

CDC director says Covid-19 vaccine for general public likely to be available in 2021

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield attends a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on September 16 in Washington, DC. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield attends a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on September 16 in Washington, DC.  Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that he thinks it will be the late second quarter or third quarter of 2021 before a Covid-19 vaccine is generally available to the American public. 

When asked when he thought there would be a vaccine ready to administer to the American public, Redfield said he thought that there would be vaccine initially available sometime between November and December, but “very limited supply and will have to be prioritized.” 

“If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public, so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at third, late second quarter, third quarter 2021.” 

Redfield said that he thought the vaccination would begin in November and December “and then will pick up, and it will be in a prioritized way. It will be those first responders and those at greatest risk for death, and then eventually that will expand.” 

Watch:

11:56 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Pac-12 commissioner says conference is still not ready for football to return

From CNN's David Close

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott speaks at a pre-game press conference at Levi's Stadium on December 6, 2019, in Santa Clara, California.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott speaks at a pre-game press conference at Levi's Stadium on December 6, 2019, in Santa Clara, California. Alika Jenner/Getty Images

On the day the Big Ten conference announced a return plan for a fall football season, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott released a statement noting the conference still has significant issues to solve before considering its own return to play. 

Scott sites health restrictions currently in place in California and Oregon that prevent football teams from practicing. There are six Pac-12 universities in those states. Scott also hints to concerns regarding the poor air quality created from the wildfires raging in the western United States. 

The Pac-12 remains the lone Power 5 conference that does not have a plan in place to play football this fall. 

Here's the statement from the commissioner:

"At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice. We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition. We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time. We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals."

11:48 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

N95 mask makers are still struggling to meet the demand, 3M CEO says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

3M is a company known for scotch tapes and post-it notes but during the coronavirus pandemic, it has become the largest producer of N95 masks. However, even as the company ramped up production and is on its way to produce 95 million masks a month this fall and 2 billion by the end of 2020, it’s still facing a challenge to meet the demand for the masks, CEO Mike Roman says.

“Even today, the demand for N95s is greater than not only our production capacity, but the entire industry. So we're still facing a challenge to meet that demand,” he told CNN Wednesday.

“We are working in partnership with other companies to look at ways that you can reuse N95s. We're also exploring ways to bring other kinds of respiratory solutions. We have reusable respirators, which are another solution. They can't meet all of the demand either but there are other things we're doing to fight them at every angle,” he added.

A lesson already being learned from this pandemic and production process is that investing in inventory and capacity is key.

“It's public-private partnerships that are doing that. Part of the investment with the DoD is to be able to have capacity to build an inventory of N95s. It’s also true that we’re doing that in partnership with health care providers, making sure that they have sufficient inventory.”

“Broadly, we were not ready for the demand,” he told CNN about pandemic preparedness at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

11:42 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Supreme Court will hear oral arguments by phone in new term beginning in October

From CNN's Ariane De Vogue

A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court is seen on June 30 in Washington, DC.
A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court is seen on June 30 in Washington, DC. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Supreme Court announced Wednesday that when the new term begins in October, the justices will hear oral arguments by phone, continuing the format it used for arguments last May due to the pandemic. 

��In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely,” Kathy Arberg, the court’s public information officer, said in a statement. She noted that the court would also provide live audio feed for the October arguments as it did last term. 

When does the new SCOTUS term start: The new term will launch the first Monday of October with the backdrop of possibly the most litigious presidential election in recent years playing out on the public scene. Emergency election related petitions are likely to come to the high court before the election and possibly after the vote. 

The court has not yet determined plans for the November and December argument sessions. 

Last spring marked the first time the justices heard their cases over the phone and the experiment significantly changed how arguments played out. 

Instead of a free for all with the justices interrupting each other and peppering advocates with a barrage of questions, the court proceeded in order of seniority with each justice having time to ask a series of questions.

For the most part, the experiment won good reviews with advocates expressing satisfaction that they were able to get their answers out without interruption. In addition, the new system attracted Justice Clarence Thomas who rarely asks questions in open court, but spoke up frequently by telephone. The session marked the first time, the public could listen in to a live audio feed.

11:10 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Retail sales growth slowed down in August

From CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn

Men's business attire is displayed in the window of a Manhattan clothier on September 15 in New York City.
Men's business attire is displayed in the window of a Manhattan clothier on September 15 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Retail sales ticked up in August from the previous month but at a slower pace after the enhanced unemployment benefits provided by the federal government ended. 

US retail sales rose 0.6% in August, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That's below the 1% predicted by economists surveyed by Refinitv. In July, retail sales grew 0.9%, the Commerce Department said. That gain already was significantly slower than the 8.4% gain in June.

A supplemental $600 weekly unemployment insurance, which had been part of the government's first stimulus bill, ran out at the end of July. Since then, Congress has been unable to agree another boost to jobless benefits. President Trump signed an executive order to bolster benefits again, although by less money, by diverting funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Consumer spending is the biggest engine of US economic growth, and retail sales are an important component of that. The report from the Commerce Department, however, does not include spending on services — things like hair-cuts, medical care and financial services. 

Some economists say continued growth in retail sales depends on future government stimulus funds and relief to people who have lost their jobs. 

"A partial relapse [in retail sales] is likely over the next couple of months as people who have been receiving enhanced unemployment benefits...cut their spending," Ian Shepherdson, economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a research report Tuesday. "The income hit from the benefit cut-off is too big for people to ignore." 

Some background: Retail sales slumped to a seven-year low in April as the coronavirus prompted stores across the country to shut their doors. Sales bounced back to pre-pandemic levels in July.

Although retail sales have bounced back, the spending has not gone to all retailers equally.

So far in 2020, nearly 8,000 stores have said they will permanently close, according to Coresight Research, a retail research and advisory firm. It anticipates closures will set a new annual record this year with as many as 25,000, breaking last year's record 9,302 closures tracked by the firm.

10:36 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Nine English soccer games will pilot allowing fans to attend this weekend

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Nine clubs in England's Football League will be allowed to admit up to 1,000 fans in this weekend’s games as part of a pilot scheme to test the return of supporters, the English Football League (EFL) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The games will be spread out across English football’s second tier Championship (hosting two games), third tier League One (hosting four games) and fourth tier League Two (hosting three games).

EFL Chair, Rick Parry said: “It’s encouraging that we are in a position to move forward with the next phase of the pilot programme and give a small number of our Clubs the opportunity to welcome back up to a 1,000 fans this week."

“By extending across more EFL Clubs we hope to further demonstrate that the measures developed can allow fans to return in greater numbers from as early as next month," he continued.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that plans for stadiums to be up to a third full starting Thursday, Oct. 1 would be reviewed.