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
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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.

3:31 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

How the Emmy Awards hosted a socially distanced show during the pandemic

From CNN's Brian Lowry

Reese Witherspoon, and Kerry Washington held a "New Year's Eve" viewing party during the Emmys.
Reese Witherspoon, and Kerry Washington held a "New Year's Eve" viewing party during the Emmys. The Television Academy and ABC Entertainment via AP

The Emmy Awards went on as scheduled Sunday, with Jimmy Kimmel noting at the outset that while an awards show might "seem frivolous and unnecessary" in the middle of a pandemic, "Right now, we need fun."

The 72nd annual Emmys mark the most significant award show to go on since the coronavirus pandemic ruled out the traditional everyone-together/black-tie events. Most of the other upcoming major awards, following the lead of the Oscars, have postponed their dates further into 2021.

The producers of this year's Emmy telecast came into the ceremony with a plan to go "live, live, live," recognizing that there would be potential logistical problems -- although there were few serious hiccups -- and hoping for the best. That included dispatching 130 cameras to catch the reactions of nominees and winners scattered across the globe.

The ceremony also sought to recognize frontline workers -- with several invited to introduce categories -- and announced that a donation would be made to the charity for every Emmy victory.

Take a look through CNN's gallery of this year's Emmy winners:

3:56 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Australia's coronavirus lockdown strategy worked. Could this be a model for the US?

Analysis from CNN's James Griffiths

People exercise in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on September 9 as the city remains under stage 4 lockdown restrictions.
People exercise in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on September 9 as the city remains under stage 4 lockdown restrictions. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

When Daniel Andrews, premier of the Australian state of Victoria, declared a lockdown over the coronavirus, some detractors on the right labeled him a "dictator" and said he was trying to build "a gulag."

But Andrews has remained popular with Victorians throughout the lockdown, local polls show -- and this week, his hardline approach was thoroughly vindicated.

On Sunday, Victoria recorded just 11 new coronavirus cases, down from over 670 at the height of the most recent outbreak last month. Next week, Melbourne will begin lifting some restrictions, including a nighttime curfew, if new cases remain below a fortnightly average of 50 per day.

"We can do this," Andrews tweeted Sunday, echoing his words at the beginning of the lockdown: "We are Victorians -- and we will get through this as Victorians. With grit, with guts, and together."

And while it may have provoked outrage from some elements of the Australian media, and criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Victoria's experience shows once again that targeted lockdowns are effective in containing the coronavirus: driving down infections, relieving pressure on hospitals and medical staff, and creating space for contact tracing and mass testing.

Read the full analysis here:

2:43 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Schools in Seoul, South Korea, resume in-person classes as cases decline

From CNN’s Gawon Bae in Seoul

Health officials spray anti-septic solution in markets and shopping districts on September 17 in Incheon, South Korea.
Health officials spray anti-septic solution in markets and shopping districts on September 17 in Incheon, South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

All schools in the Seoul metropolitan area resumed in-person classes on Monday, though with certain new rules, as the region's coronavirus cases continue to decline.

South Korean Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae first announced the return to school on September 15, along with the easing of other social distancing measures.

Kindergartens, elementary and middle schools are now allowed to have up to one third of the school capacity filled; this cap goes up to two thirds for high schools. Some schools can adjust the attending capacity after discussing with the Ministry of Education.

Schools in Seoul have been doing remote learning since August 26, when the capital experienced a surge in coronavirus cases.

The number of daily cases has fallen slightly the past month; the country reported 70 new cases on Sunday, 55 of which were locally transmitted, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yoo said the Health Ministry will closely monitor infection development and the regional situation to decide whether school reopenings will be expanded further next month.

2:02 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

The US had nearly 40,000 cases on Sunday

The United States reported 39,844 new cases of Covid-19 and 250 virus-related deaths on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

That raises the national total to at least 6,804,814 cases and 199,509 deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

See CNN's live tracker of US cases and deaths:

1:37 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

New US forecast predicts fewer coronavirus deaths than before

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

An influential United States coronavirus model has updated its forecast for January, predicting a “most likely” scenario of 378,321 deaths in the country by January 1 -- a big drop in the forecast from just a week ago.

The new Covid-19 forecast was released Saturday from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. Just last week, it had forecast 415,090 virus-related deaths.

“This decline is driven by steeper than expected declines seen in deaths in several states. In our model, these declines push out further into January and February the expected seasonal surge, reducing the number of deaths expected by January 1,” the IHME explained.
“We expect over 3,000 deaths per day by the end of December. Between now and January 1 we expect approximately 180,000 deaths.”

If a universal mask mandate was put in place, the number of projected deaths could drop dramatically to an estimated 263,483, IMHE said -- but if current restrictions are eased, the projected number soars to 445,605.

“Even if herd immunity were to occur at a low level, such as 40% (the level seen in Mexico City now) with cumulative infections, by January 1, the US epidemic would only be less than half over,” the IHME said.

1:38 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

The UK is at a "critical point" as Covid-19 cases rise, warns chief medical officer

From CNN's Mia Alberti 

Pedestrians walk past a sign for a Covid-19 test centre in Leyton, east London on September 19.
Pedestrians walk past a sign for a Covid-19 test centre in Leyton, east London on September 19. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty

The United Kingdom is at a critical point in the pandemic, with cases continuing to rise as winter approaches, the country's chief medical officer is expected to announce on Monday.

“The trend in UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic," professor Chris Whitty will say on Monday, according to a statement released by 10 Downing Street on Sunday. 

“We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period."

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently warned that the UK is "now seeing a second wave coming in" and that an increase in coronavirus cases was "inevitable."

Threat of a new lockdown: UK Health Minister Matt Hancock told the BBC on Saturday that people must follow the rules or new restriction measures such as a second national lockdown could be imposed.

"People must follow the rules and if they don't we will bring in this much more stringent measures," Hancock said. When asked about re-imposing a second national lockdown, the minister said, "I don't rule it out. I don't want to see it."

"Everybody knows if people break the rules we are more likely to end up with national measures. I don't want to see those national measures but it is absolutely critical at this moment that everybody stops and realizes they all have a part to play," he said.
12:27 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

New Zealand lifts social distancing rules except in Auckland

From Angus Watson in Sydney 

New Zealand has dropped Covid-19 social distancing restrictions for all areas other than its most populous city, Auckland.

This comes after the country reported no new cases on Sunday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that Auckland would remain on Level 2 restrictions until at least October 7, but that the rest of New Zealand was free to move to Level 1.

  • Level 1 restrictions indicate that the virus has been contained in New Zealand and requires restrictions only for those entering the country.
  • Level 2 restrictions cap the number of people at any gathering at 100 and mandates mask use on public transport.

A Covid-19 cluster in Auckland emerged in August, breaking a run of 102 days without a case of community transmission in New Zealand.

Ardern noted on Monday that there had not been a case linked to that cluster for 7 days, leading the government to its decision to relax social distancing measures.

She added that the country has a "50-50 chance" of eliminating Covid-19 by the end of the month.

1:40 a.m. ET, September 21, 2020

32 arrested at anti-vaccination protest in London on Sunday

From CNN's Maija Ehlinger in Atlanta

Authorities in London arrested 32 people in Trafalgar Square on Sunday after anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protests the day before.

Officers on the scene were "met with outbreaks of violence" prior to the arrests, according to a statement released by the Metropolitan Police. Arrests were issued for violent disorder, assaulting emergency workers and for breaking Covid-19 regulations. 

Two police officers sustained minor injuries, according to the statement.

“We remain in the middle of a public health crisis, and by gathering in large numbers – such as today’s protest – puts others at risk. We advised those in attendance to leave but many refused to do so," said Superintendent Emma Richards in the statement.