September 21 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Amy Woodyatt, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, September 22, 2020
20 Posts
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8:05 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Covid-19 Prevention Network to encourage Black people to participate in vaccine trials

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas and Elizabeth Cohen

The Covid-19 Prevention Network, a group formed by the US' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to respond to the global pandemic, will host its first event Thursday to encourage Black people to participate in vaccine trials.

The network has already taken out a series of advertisements to encourage minority participation in the trial. Thursday's event, called "COVID in Black," is an interactive discussion where participants can communicate via Zoom and Facebook with Black doctors and experts. 

The online events are expected to be held monthly, according to Stephaun Wallace, director of external relations at the Covid-19 Prevention Network.

Vaccine trials struggled to recruit minorities, including Black people.

Minority participation in vaccine trials has improved in the past month, but it is still not as high as public health leaders would like. 

On Thursday the experts will share information about the current and planned clinical trials, not just to encourage Black enrolment, but also to encourage Black people to take the vaccine once it's on the market. 

"Having conversations in communities about black folks' engagement in medicine and medical establishments is really a part of this as well," Wallace told CNN. 

Black enrolment remains low: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, has urged that at least 27% of volunteers in vaccine clinical trials be Black, but enrolments aren’t reaching that level.

Black participants made up 13% of Moderna’s new enrolments for the week of September 14, according to the company. In Pfizer’s US trial, 8% of the volunteers are Black, according to the company. 

People can volunteer for coronavirus vaccine trials on the Covid-19 Prevention Network’s website. Currently, 3% of the 407,000 people who have registered on the site have been Black, according to a spokesperson for the network. 

8:03 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes with higher numbers of minority residents are more likely to have more Covid-19 cases, research finds

From CNN Health's Naomi Thomas

Two studies published Monday found that nursing homes and assisted living facilities with higher proportions of minority residents are more likely to have more Covid-19 cases.
Two studies published Monday found that nursing homes and assisted living facilities with higher proportions of minority residents are more likely to have more Covid-19 cases. Shutterstock

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities with higher proportions of minority residents are more likely to have more Covid-19 cases, according to two new studies published Monday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The first, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, looked at 12,576 nursing homes that passed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' quality assurance check for submitted data and reported to CMS’ Nursing Home Covid-19 Public File for the week ending May 31.

"Nursing homes caring for disproportionately more racial/ethnic minority residents tended to have more new Covid-19 confirmed cases among their residents and staff, and more new Covid-19 related deaths among residents," Yu Lie and colleagues at the Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Health Policy and Outcomes Research said.

Predicted counts of cases and deaths per facility were two to four times as high in nursing homes that had the highest proportions of racial/ethnic minority residents, compared to those with low proportions.

The second study, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, looked at data on confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths through May 29, from 3,994 assisted living facilities, with 2,542 cases and 675 deaths in seven states.

“As in nursing homes, AL [assisted living] communities with a higher proportion of minority residents tend to have a higher count of Covid-19 cases,” Helena Temkin-Greener and colleagues from the Department of Public Health Sciences wrote.

They found that assisted living facilities with higher proportions of Black/Hispanic residents had more Covid-19 cases, as did communities with higher proportions of residents with dementia, COPD and obesity, and a higher proportions of men.

Assisted living facilities had a case fatality rate that was four times higher than the average across the seven states included in the study, even though fewer than 10% of them reported being affected by the pandemic.

They also found that larger assisted living facilities appeared to be more likely to experience at least one Covid-19 case, but they are not necessarily more likely to experience a greater number of cases.


7:58 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Jacinda Ardern apologizes for taking selfies, not wearing a mask and flouting social distancing rules

From CNN's Vanesse Chan

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has apologized for taking selfies, flouting social distancing rules, and not wearing a mask while on the campaign trail. 

Ardern took a selfie with a large group of students who were huddled closely together, not wearing masks, last Thursday. 

She took another selfie with construction workers; again, no one was wearing a mask.

The second instance drew criticism, since it came as Ardern announced that lockdown restrictions would remain in place for Auckland.

"All the way through on the campaign trail and even before during alert level settings, I work really hard not to shake people's hands. I sanitize, I wear my mask in Auckland. And I work hard to try and keep my social distance," Ardern said on Monday.
"In that particular photo I did make a mistake, I should have stepped further forward. I should have asked him to step apart from each other, and I acknowledge that," she said. 
"It is hard," she added, pledging to "keep up ... those awkward moments where I refuse to shake hands."

National leader Judith Collins, who is also on the campaign trail, said in a press conference that she was "staggered" to see photos of the Labour leader taken last week.

An opposition politician tweeted on September 19 criticizing Ardern for posing closely with students on the campaign trail. David Seymour, MP for Epsom, posted: "Hospitality businesses can't make money at Level 2 because of single server and social distancing rules. Meanwhile, the person responsible for the rules is self-serving and not social distancing."

In the same press conference, Ardern said that "our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control. With no new cases in the country today and no new cases for seven days linked to the Auckland cluster we are in a strong position to make our next move, down our alert settings."

7:30 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Mandatory mask wearing introduced in parts of Munich

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

The German city of Munich is to make mask wearing mandatory in busy areas, its mayor said Monday.

Munich is the capital of Bavaria, Germany’s most Southern state, and has been hard-hit by coronavirus because of its location, and its status a transit point for travelers heading north.

Dieter Reiter said masks would become mandatory from Thursday, unless the incidence-rate -- which stood at 55.59 per 100,000 inhabitants on Saturday -- drops by then.

In addition, the number of people who can meet -- either privately at home, or in a pub or restaurant -- will be restricted to five, or two households.

 People enjoy a summer evening outdoors at the English Garden in Munich, Germany, on July 14.
 People enjoy a summer evening outdoors at the English Garden in Munich, Germany, on July 14. Felix Hörhager/picture alliance via Getty Image

Private festivities will be limited to 25 people indoors, and 50 outdoors, Reiter said.

The mayor added that these measures would stay in place for seven days, in order for authorities to establish whether they are producing results.

Munich’s R-rate was 1.12 on Saturday, according to the City of Munich website.

6:44 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Some limited vaccines could be available before the end of the year, UK's chief scientific advisor says

From CNN's Richard Greene

It is possible some limited vaccines will be available for small groups of people before the end of the year, the UK's chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance said Monday.

But Vallance said it was more likely that vaccines would not be widely available before the first half of next year, if then.

6:39 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

French coronavirus cases rise, with 1,045 clusters investigated

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz and Pierre Bairin

Coronavirus cases are rising starkly in France, according to Sante Publique France, the French public health authority, with a total of 453,763 cases so far, and 10,569 new cases in the 24 hours to Sunday evening.

Twelve new deaths were recorded in the 24 hours to Sunday night, bringing the total number of Covid-19 fatalities in France up to 31,285.

Test positivity stands at 5.7%, according to the health authority, which said 3,894 people with the virus had been admitted to hospital in the last seven days; 593 of those are in ICU.

As many as 1,045 clusters -- in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Lille, among other locations -- are currently being investigated, the health authority said.

6:35 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

We've turned a corner -- in a bad way, warns UK Chief Medical Officer

Patrick Vallance, UK Chief Scientific Advisor, speaks during a coronavirus data briefing on September 21.
Patrick Vallance, UK Chief Scientific Advisor, speaks during a coronavirus data briefing on September 21. 10 Downing Street

The UK has "in a bad sense, recently turned a corner" in the coronavirus pandemic, UK chief medical adviser Chris Whitty said Monday, at a special briefing alongside chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.

Coronavirus cases are on the increase across the UK, and Vallance and Whitty -- the country's leading medical experts -- warn that, as the weather turns colder, the situation is likely to worsen.

Vallance said infections were increasing across all age groups, with the highest rise among 20- to 29-year-olds.

"There is the potential for this to move very fast," Vallance told reporters at the news conference in Downing Street.

Whitty said the virus was likely to be a serious concern for the next six months, during the annual winter flu season.

"The seasons are against us," Whitty said. "We should see this as a six-month problem that we have to deal with ... we have to realize that we have to take this collectively very seriously.”

Coronavirus is more virulent than the flu, he said.

"This is not someone else's problem; this is all of our problem," Whitty said.

"If this carries on unabated ... the number of deaths directly from Covid will continue to rise, potentially on an exponential curve," he added.

Evidence suggests that fewer than 8% of people overall have developed antibodies to the virus -- though that number may be higher in cities, and up to 17% in London, Vallance said.

"The vast majority of us are not protected in any way and are susceptible to this disease," he said, repeating for emphasis: "The vast majority of the population remains susceptible."

5:42 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Germany to introduce "temperature ambulances" for quick Covid-19 tests

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

Jens Spahn, Germany's Minister of Health, leaves a session of the Bundestag in Berlin on September 18.
Jens Spahn, Germany's Minister of Health, leaves a session of the Bundestag in Berlin on September 18. Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images

Germany is aiming to introduce additional measures to fight Covid-19 this fall.

In an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper, Health Minister Jens Spahn highlighted the introduction of so-called "temperature ambulances," locations where those with coronavirus symptoms can get on-the-spot tests.

Spahn also spoke about the need to get more fast testing underway.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, a demonstration against coronavirus measures and restrictions took place in the western German city of Dusseldorf.

According to a statement from police in North-Rhine Westphalia, several thousand people demonstrated peacefully, carrying signs saying “Corona Rebels Duesseldorf” and “Enough with panic. Corona-Pandemic is a lie. Freedom, peace, love now.”

So far, 272,337 people in Germany have been infected with the virus -- 922 new cases were reported on Sunday, according to the Robert-Koch institute (RKI), Germany's federal agency for disease control and prevention. According to the RKI, a total of 9,386 people have died of the disease; there have been no new fatalities in the last 24 hours.

Three districts in Germany have been marked as "red" zones, meaning they have more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants: Cloppenburg in Lower Saxony, and two Bavarian districts, Munich and Wuerzburg, according to the RKI. 

5:40 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Czech Health Minister resigns amid rise in coronavirus cases

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch tells journalists in Prague that he has decided to resign from his post, on Monday, September 21.
Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch tells journalists in Prague that he has decided to resign from his post, on Monday, September 21. Vit Simanek/CTK/AP Images

The Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch has resigned, a spokeswoman for the ministry has confirmed.

"Minister Vojtěch resigned. He wants to create space for a new solution to the coronavirus epidemic," Gabriela Štěpanyová told CNN by text. "He came to the ministry to push for systemic conceptual changes, but the coronavirus epidemic does not allow him to complete the task," Štěpanyová added.

Coronavirus case numbers have risen starkly in the Czech Republic in recent weeks, to levels several times higher than during the Spring peak.

As a result of the increase, rules on the use of masks were tightened last week. Starting Friday, face coverings are mandatory for all students and staff everywhere in schools, with only the youngest children exempt from the rules. Previously, masks were compulsory in corridors and common areas, but not in classrooms.

Face masks are also mandatory in all indoor public spaces, such as on public transport and in shops.