September 23 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Brad Lendon, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, September 24, 2020
14 Posts
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6:24 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

US is repeating baseless Covid-19 allegations to shift blame for its "weak response," China says

From CNN's Beijing Bureau

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks during a daily media briefing in Beijing on September 18.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks during a daily media briefing in Beijing on September 18. Wu Hong/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs hit back after US President Donald Trump blamed the Asian country for the coronavirus crisis, and for unleashing a "plague" on the world, in his pre-recorded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) address.

Wang Wenbin, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson -- who did not refer to the US President Donald Trump by name -- accused the "US leader" of "repeating baseless allegations against China, the US is trying to shift blame for its weak response." 
"On January 23 when China closed the channels from Wuhan, there were only nine confirmed cases outside China and only one in the US. On January 31, the US suspended direct flights with China. On February 2, when US closed its borders to Chinese citizens, only about a dozen cases were reported." 

Wang said the virus "is a common enemy to all. China has suffered from this epidemic and contributed to the global response," adding that "lies cannot replace truth." 

He said that China shared data about the virus at the "earliest time possible" and had also suffered because of the pandemic.

4:24 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

Analysis: 200,000 Americans dead, but Trump says Covid affects "virtually nobody"

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

A woman places flags at a COVID Memorial Project installation of 20,000 American flags on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on September 22. The flags are displayed on the grounds of the Washington Monument facing the White House.
A woman places flags at a COVID Memorial Project installation of 20,000 American flags on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on September 22. The flags are displayed on the grounds of the Washington Monument facing the White House. Win McNamee/Getty Images

More Americans have now died of Covid than of five wars combined.

Or, the US Covid deaths are the equivalent of US deaths on 9/11 occurring every day for 66 days.

Or, the US has suffered an average of 858 deaths every day since February 6, the date of the first known US coronavirus death.

Or, Covid is now the second-leading cause of death in the US this year, behind only heart disease.

Many, many more deaths are on the way: Prediction models, which fluctuate, currently suggest the US could see 180,000 more deaths by the end of 2020 -- 380,000 deaths total. If fatalities approach that level, they'll far eclipse even Civil War battle deaths.

Infectious disease expert and government official Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the Citizen by CNN conference on Tuesday that he's concerned about the country not having control of the virus' spread ahead of a winter season that could exacerbate it.

"The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, and in some respects, stunning," he told CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Fauci argued that the country is in a pivotal moment to slow the spread right now with simple measures -- frequent hand washing and wearing masks, the same as the recommendation has been for months -- before winter comes, when people spend more time inside and transmission could increase.

"We do have within our capability -- even before we get a vaccine, which we will get reasonably soon -- we have the capability by doing things that we have been speaking about for so long, Sanjay, that could prevent the transmission, and by preventing transmission, ultimately preventing the morbidity and mortality that we see," Fauci said.

He added that he'd like to see the US go into the fall and winter months "at such a low level that when you have the inevitable cases, you can handle them."

Yet President Donald Trump says Covid affects virtually nobody: Rather than publicly mourning, Trump was arguing this week that Covid affects "elderly people with heart problems" and very few other people. "It affects virtually nobody. It's an amazing thing," he said in Ohio.

Read the full analysis:

4:06 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

US lawmakers set sights on CDC after latest mishap

From CNN's Lauren Fox, Jeremy Diamond and Nick Valencia

US Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) asks questions during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on November 20, 2019
US Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) asks questions during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on November 20, 2019 Samuel Corum/Pool/Getty Images

The posting and removal of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on airborne transmission for coronavirus prompted a flurry of questions from Capitol Hill this week, with both sides of the aisle reaching out for answers on what happened.

And Democrats were not buying the CDC's innocuous explanation of an unfortunate mistake. They argue it is just the latest example in a long pattern of confusing behavior where the CDC makes one decision and then days later backs off.

"The CDC just published scientifically valid information and then pulled it off their website, and this is very likely a scandal," Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, said Tuesday.

"One way or another, we're going to investigate it and find out," Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said.

The CDC guidance pertained to the way the novel coronavirus is spread. While it's known that Covid-19 can spread through droplets among people standing less than six feet apart, research has continued to explore how the virus suspends in aerosolized particles in the air and transmits to people more than six feet away.

The CDC said the retraction of new guidance about airborne coronavirus transmission was the result of a confused staffer who hit "publish" without approval, according to the most detailed explanation yet of the agency's website mishap.

Several other current and former federal health officials also told CNN the document was posted in error before it had gone through the full review process.

Read the full story:

2:52 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

Israel reports nearly 7,000 new Covid-19 cases in highest single-day spike

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann

Israel reported 6,861 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, surging past the previous daily high of 5,523 new infections set last week.

The new daily high in recorded cases comes as Israel’s government considers imposing tighter restrictions during the country’s second general lockdown, including limitations on prayer and protests, and scaling back work in the public and private sector.

Israel imposed the lockdown last Friday as it tried to curtail the rising number of cases throughout the country, but critics said the restrictions have too many loopholes and exceptions to adequately stop the spread of the virus.

2:34 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

US reports more than 39,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

An additional 39,334 coronavirus infections were recorded in the United States on Tuesday, raising the nationwide caseload to at least 6,896,274, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

The death toll stands at 200,807 after 921 new virus-related fatalities were recorded Tuesday.

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

CNN is tracking the cases here:

4:01 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

Analysis: Trump again minimizes the pandemic as officials warn of a fall surge

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on September 22.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on September 22. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

A new clash between Donald Trump's political goals and his duties to public health threatens to deprive America of presidential leadership in the critical weeks that will decide if a second wave of Covid-19 swamps the country this winter.

As the US death toll from the pandemic passed 200,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that he was worried that the high base level of infections could make it difficult to keep the virus under control in the colder months.

While the government's top infectious diseases specialist, who has been marginalized by Trump, said serious trouble was not "inevitable," he added at the Citizen by CNN conference that "it's not acceptable to not realize that we are entering into a risk period and we've got to act accordingly."

Fauci spoke while medical indicators head in a perilous direction as the US approaches its 7 millionth infection. Cases are rising in 24 states, Washington, DC, and two territories. Wisconsin's Gov. Tony Evers warned Tuesday of a "new and dangerous stage" of the pandemic in the crucial swing state, where Trump held a rally last week. And there are now more than 59,000 cases of coronavirus on college campuses after many schools decided to open despite adopting insufficient safety measures.

Notre Dame canceled its football game on Saturday against Wake Forest after seven Fighting Irish players tested positive for the virus. The move comes just a week after Trump claimed he had orchestrated the return of football for many of Notre Dame's Midwest (and battleground state) neighbors in the Big Ten conference.

But there is no visible sign of concern from the White House about this potential pivot point on which thousands of lives may depend. That may be because it coincides with the moment of highest tension in a presidential race in which the President is trying to convince voters that the worst of the emergency has passed.

"I think we've done an amazing job ... in my opinion we're rounding the turn," the President said in an interview with a local Fox station in Detroit in which he continued to minimize the danger. On Monday, he had claimed the virus "affects virtually nobody" -- a staggering comment on the eve of such a tragic milestone.

Read the full analysis:

1:39 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

The public can trust the CDC and the FDA for coronavirus information, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Andrea Kane

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

A unnamed person's attempt to manipulate information coming out of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for political reasons “has been unfortunate,” White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.

"The person who was trying to influence the CDC, and even me, with emails is gone," Fauci said at the Atlantic Festival. “So, I think we can put that behind us right now.”  

Fauci appeared to be referring to Michael Caputo, who served as the assistant for public affairs in the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

Caputo, who announced last week that he was taking a leave of absence, has been accused by critics of politicizing the CDC and HHS response to the pandemic, and of trying to influence studies published in the CDC's journal, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, to align with the Trump administration’s position. 

When asked where Americans should go for trustworthy information on the coronavirus, Fauci replied: "I would trust the CDC, and I would trust the FDA."

"The FDA commissioner has made it very clear that he is going to make sure that the in-the-trenches scientist who look at these types of things all the time -- that's what they do for a living -- they're going to be the ones that are going to be making the recommendation (about any potential coronavirus vaccine)."
12:58 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

As the US surpasses 200,000 Covid-19 deaths, survivors have a message: This is not a hoax

From CNN's Theresa Waldrop

Members of the medical staff treat a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on July 28.
Members of the medical staff treat a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on July 28. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Even as the United States surpasses 200,000 Covid-19 deaths, there are still people who think the coronavirus is a hoax. Survivors of the disease and members of victims' families beg to differ and are sharing their very real experiences with the deadly disease.

Ann and Marvin Robinson, a married couple in Casper, Wyoming, got the virus almost three months ago. Marvin, 73, still has shortness of breath, and both are battling fatigue.

"We have friends who still believe it's a hoax. They think that it's going to go away on Election Day," Ann, 72, told CNN's Brianna Keilar on Tuesday.

"It's trying to convince people that the 200,000 people who have died were important," Ann said of her efforts to assure people of the reality of the virus.

Their friends "kind of discount the fact that older people get it that have underlying conditions, that they were going to die anyway," Ann said. "Well, I'm an older person and I have underlying conditions, and I intend to live for a lot more years."

Nearly 6.9 million people have contracted the virus nationwide, and at least 200,768 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Read the full story:

12:01 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

"The virus is hurting us, not the public health measures," Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Andrea Kane

In this July 31 file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31, in Washington.
In this July 31 file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31, in Washington. Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that some people interpret public health measures he’s promoting during the coronavirus pandemic as hurting them. 

“No, the virus is hurting us, not the public health measures. The public health measures really should be looked upon as a vehicle, or a pathway to reopen the economy and to get the country back and to get employment back, it shouldn't be looked upon as an obstacle,” he said at the Atlantic Festival

Fauci said that people have been threatening him and his family “because I'm saying we should be doing public health things like wearing a mask, physical distancing, as if I'm doing something that is harmful for them.” 

He said that he is not suggesting another shutdown, but rather, opening the economy “in a measured and careful way.” 

Fauci called forces that have been downplaying the pandemic “detrimental.”

“What the general public needs is a message that's consistent, and that they can believe,” he said, noting that we are living "in a very divisive society right now,” one that is so politically charged that public health recommendations have taken on an us-versus-them approach and where wearing or not wearing a mask is a statement.