September 28 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Tara John, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, September 29, 2020
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11:26 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

US coronavirus task force has "open and honest" debate, member says

From CNN's Andre Kane

Adm. Brett Giroir (right) speaks to CNN's Erin Burnett.
Adm. Brett Giroir (right) speaks to CNN's Erin Burnett. Source: CNN

Asked about tension between members of the United States Coronavirus Task Force, Adm. Brett Giroir told CNN’s Erin Burnett there’s honest debate about some matters.

“All the scientists and doctors on the task force, we do work together. We agree on the great majority of things. But whether it's Dr. (Scott) Atlas and Dr. (Deborah) Birx, or me and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci or Dr. (Robert) Redfield -- there is some disagreement,” said Giroir, the so-called testing czar on the task force.

Tensions have built up between the task force’s newest member, Atlas, a neuroradiologist without a background in infectious disease or public health, and some of the other members since he joined the group in August. Atlas espouses many of President Donald Trump’s unscientific views regarding the coronavirus, including a reluctance to enforce mask use.

On Monday, Fauci, another task force member, said he sometimes felt that Trump receives misleading information from one of the other task force members who is out of step with everyone else. He did not name Atlas but told CNN: “I think you know who the outlier is.”

And Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Redfield, another task force member, was overheard on a flight saying “Everything he says is false,” also apparently talking about Atlas.

“There's a diversity of opinions. I think that's very important because science is not black and white,” Giroir told CNN. “Things are not 100% or zero percent -- there's often shades of gray, and it's very important that we have an open and honest debate. The Vice President uses a phrase all the time: iron sharpens iron. And we have a lot of iron getting sharpened there and I think that's a very good thing.

But apparently the issue of mask use is clear cut. “Wearing a mask … is one of the most important public health measures that you can do. You need to wear a mask when you can't physically distance, because it will protect others from getting infected from you. And it does provide a degree of protection to yourself,” Giroir said.

10:43 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

CDC was pushed to play down the risks of Covid-19 in reopening schools, former Pence staffer says

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Olivia Troye, a former staff member for US Vice President Mike Pence.
Olivia Troye, a former staff member for US Vice President Mike Pence. Source: CNN

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was pushed to play down the risks of the coronavirus pandemic in reopening schools, Olivia Troye, a former staff member for Vice President Mike Pence, told CNN.

Troye said an earlier New York Times story about the pressure was accurate, and described the situation within the White House Coronavirus Task Force as a "nightmare."

“Unfortunately, this was an effort, you know, at times where I would get blindsided, where there would be junior staffers being tasked to find different data for charts to show that the virus wasn't as bad for certain populations, ages or demographics,” Troye told CNN.

Troye confirmed an incident in June in which she and those junior staffers, pushed by Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short, tried to circumvent the CDC in finding data on Covid-19 that would better support President Donald Trump’s stance that schools should reopen.

“I think it put these task force members and doctors in a very challenging position,” Troye said. “It was what was going on behind the scenes."

“I think you’ve seen from the beginning the President’s narrative has been ‘everything’s fine. Everything’s OK. Time to get back to normal. Let’s get the economy going again'," she said, adding that Trump "told the governors, ‘you need to open the schools. You need to try to make it seem like everything’s OK when in reality it’s not.’ I think it’s been because his response has been so broken along the way, it was to tell anything but the truth.”
9:27 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Covid-19 has killed 1 million people worldwide. Experts fear the toll may double before a vaccine is ready

From CNN's Laura Smith-Spark

More than 1 million people have died from the coronavirus worldwide, marking another milestone in the pandemic's brief but devastating history.

The death toll from the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, now stands at 1,000,555, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The grim tally has been reached in less than nine months since the first death caused by the coronavirus was confirmed by Chinese authorities in the city of Wuhan.

Since then, the virus has disrupted the everyday lives of billions of people around the globe and caused widespread economic damage. More than 33 million cases have been confirmed worldwide and outbreaks continue to plague many countries.

Europe, which became the second epicenter for the virus after China, imposed widespread restrictions on people's movements in the spring in an effort to curb its spread. While the measures had some success, a number of countries that were badly affected early on -- such as FranceSpain and the United Kingdom -- are now battling to rein in a second wave.

The United States, with more than 7 million cases and more than 205,000 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University data, has been the worst-affected nation overall.

President Donald Trump is widely viewed as having mishandled the federal response to the pandemic and, despite the country's wealth and advanced health care systems, it has struggled to bring infections under control. Now, some experts fear Trump could pressure scientists into authorizing or approving a Covid-19 vaccine without a full formal review process for political gain.

Trump has repeatedly defended his handling of the pandemic. But he and the White House have been widely criticized for flouting government guidelines designed to limit the transmission of Covid-19, including social distancing and wearing a mask.

Read the full story:

9:02 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

One million dead: How Covid-19 tore us apart

A Chinese doctor who tried to sound the alarm. A father of six who emigrated from Pakistan to the United States to give his family a better life. A 15-year-old boy who left his remote home in the Amazon to study. They all died from Covid-19.

In eight months, more than 33 million people have been diagnosed with coronavirus, across nearly every country. The disease has taken lives on every continent except Antarctica -- and more than one million people have died.

That’s four times as many people who died in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 16 times as many people killed by the common flu in the US last winter, and more than 335 times the number of people who perished in the 9/11 attacks.

But the tragedy of coronavirus isn’t just in the death toll. It’s also in the grim truths it has revealed about who we are and how we treat our most vulnerable. The pandemic has exposed shocking failures of governance, worsened deep-rooted inequalities in access to healthcare, and inflamed a long-waged war on facts preventing scientists from conveying information that could save lives.

Almost every person in the world has been affected by the pandemic. But it hasn’t drawn us closer -- in many ways, it’s tearing us further apart.

Read more about the victims of coronavirus:

8:52 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Global coronavirus deaths surpass 1 million

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel in Atlanta

More than 1 million people worldwide have died from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University's data. 

As of Monday, September 28, at 8:43 pm ET, the global death toll is 1,000,555.

The United States has the highest fatality count, having so far recorded 205,131 deaths, according to JHU.

The first coronavirus-related death recorded was in the Chinese city of Wuhan on January 9.

The world recorded half a million deaths more than 24 weeks later, on June 28, and it took just a little over 13 weeks to double the figure.

The university’s tally shows the US, Brazil, India, and Mexico account for more than 50% of the total deaths globally. 

CNN is tracking the cases and deaths:

7:47 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Pelosi and Democrats unveil new $2.2 trillion stimulus package

From CNN's Manu Raju

Nancy Pelosi leaves the Russell Building after an MSNBC interview on Monday, September 28.
Nancy Pelosi leaves the Russell Building after an MSNBC interview on Monday, September 28. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP Images

After passing their $3.4 trillion stimulus package in May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats now say they are prepared to move forward with a scaled-down $2.2 trillion package. But that price tag is still too high for Senate Republicans and the White House.

If Pelosi puts the new package on the House floor, it’s a sign that her talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have collapsed.

Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill tweeted that the speaker and Mnuchin spoke tonight and agreed to speak again tomorrow morning. 

7:33 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Relative of mother-daughter pair who died of Covid-19 says they were "inseparable"

Terrance Bannister described the pain of losing his cousin, Demetria Bannister, and his aunt, Shirley Bannister, to Covid-19 in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper's "Full Circle."

"My aunt Shirley was a great person," he told Cooper. "She was an educator. She loved her family. She was a community person. She loved her mother, she loved her husband, definitely loved her daughter. She just was a hard worker."

"This is a complete tragedy," he said. "Never in my life I would have imagined this."

Shirley Bannister, 57, died from complications from Covid-19 on Sunday, according to her brother, Dennis Bell.

Her daughter, Demetria Bannister, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher from South Carolina, died earlier this month, just a few days after testing positive for Covid-19.

Shirley Bannister "got really sick about two, three days after her daughter died" on Sept. 7, Bell told CNN in a phone interview.

Terrance Bannister told Cooper the mother-daughter pair was "so tight."

"They just loved each other," he said. "They were inseparable."

CNN's Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.

Watch more:

6:35 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Trump's plan to distribute 150 million rapid tests is "long overdue," top health expert says

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Dr. William Haseltine, chair and president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International
Dr. William Haseltine, chair and president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International CNN

President Trump's plan to disperse 150 million rapid coronavirus tests is a step in the right direction, but too small and too late, Dr. William Haseltine, chair and president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International, told CNN anchor Pamela Brown today.

"It's a small step forward," said Haseltine, speaking on "The Lead." "I would rather see 150 million a day, not a month... This is long overdue."

Haseltine went on to call the step "modestly helpful," but said that in order for the federal government to slow the spread of the virus, it would need to distribute from 10 to 20 times that number of rapid tests.

Trump formally announced his plan on Monday to distribute 150 million Abbott point of care tests in the coming week, a plan first promoted by the White House in August.

Announcing the distribution plan in the White House Rose Garden, Trump claimed the testing effort would "allow every state on a very regular basis test every teacher who needs it."

"I'm pleased to report we're announcing our plan to distribute 150 million Abbott point of care tests in the coming weeks," Trump said in the Rose Garden on Monday.


6:11 p.m. ET, September 28, 2020

US federalist approach not always the best for a pandemic, Fauci says

From CNN’s Maggie Fox


The federal style of government in the US can act against the country’s best interest in a pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

States and territories cannot always go their own way, Fauci told CNN’s Brian Stelter.

“The federalist approach where you have a central government but you also have the 50 states and other territories that have the capability and are encouraged even to act independently on our own,” Fauci said.

“That works well a lot of times. But when you have an epidemic that grips the entire country, a pandemic where one part of the country influences another part of the country, it’s important to do things in a relatively uniform way while respecting the individual differences in states, in cities and in counties,” added Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

“You have to respect some of the differences but there are some things that you really want to do in common. It’s almost as if you look at the country as a large forest and when you have a fire in some of the trees in the forest, the entire forest is in danger — not just that section of the forest that has the fire.”

The White House has declined to set federal policies on any public health strategies for fighting the pandemic, from mandating mask use to opening high-risk businesses including bars and restaurants. The Trump administration has instead stressed the responsibility of states to control the spread of the virus.