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

CDC director concerned Atlas is sharing misleading information with Trump

From CNN’s Nick Valencia and Jamie Gumbrecht

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield is pictured during a US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield is pictured during a US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23. Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

NBC News reported Monday that US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield was overheard during a phone call in public on a commercial airline saying, "Everything he says is false.”

NBC News, which heard the comment, said Redfield acknowledged after the flight from Atlanta to Washington, DC, that he was speaking about Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who joined the White House Coronavirus Task Force in August. 

NBC said that Redfield, in the conversation with a colleague on Friday, suggested Atlas is providing President Trump with misleading data about the efficacy of masks, young people’s susceptibility to the coronavirus and herd immunity.

In a statement to CNN, a CDC spokesman did not deny the conversation took place:

"NBC News is reporting one side of a private phone conversation by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield that was overheard on a plane from Atlanta Hartsfield airport. Dr. Redfield was having a private discussion regarding a number of points he has made publicly about Covid-19."

A federal health official tells CNN, more broadly, “bottomline, the story is accurate.”

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

CNN has reported that Atlas – a critic of severe lockdowns who was supported herd immunity strategies against the coronavirus – has found himself at odds with other medical experts in his administration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.

On Friday, Fauci said during an interview that the Trump administration has pivoted away from receiving daily guidance from the White House Coronavirus Task Force to focus more heavily on the economy. “We're meeting now on an average of one and at the most two times a week,” Fauci said.

8:47 a.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Governor warns New York City's spike in cases shows Covid-19 still "a force to be reckoned with" 

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in New York on September 9.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in New York on September 9. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

As cases spike in parts of New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that Covid-19 "remains a force to be reckoned with throughout the country."

"I urge New Yorkers to keep wearing masks, socially distancing and washing their hands, and local governments must continue to enforce state public health guidance," Cuomo said in a statement. "By staying vigilant and smart, we can beat COVID together."

Experts have cautioned the US could see an explosion of coronavirus cases in the fall and winter as people exercise less caution and spend more time indoors.

Already the US has reported more than 7.1 million cases and 204,756 deaths since the pandemic began, and 21 states are reporting more new cases in the last seven days compared with the week before, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Once the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, New York had boasted a test positivity rate — the percentage of tests being performed that come back positive for the virus — of less than 1% for more than a month. That rate broke 1% on Saturday as Cuomo reminded New Yorkers "we cannot drop our guard."

Though the rate of positive tests is still low relative to other states, neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn are seeing cases "continue to grow at an alarming rate," according to a news release from the city's Department of Health.

But New York is still among the states with the lowest positivity rate in the US. The World Health Organization advised that the rates of positivity in testing should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days before businesses reopen. Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia meet that recommendation, with Vermont holding the lowest rate at 0.53% positive.

Twenty-eight states and Puerto Rico have positivity rates higher than 5%. The territory has a 100% positivity rate. Among US states, the rate is highest, 24.64%, in South Dakota, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Read more here.

8:23 a.m. ET, September 28, 2020

World nears 1 million deaths as new outbreaks emerge

From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh in London

Nearly 1 million people across the world have died since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and new outbreaks are continuing to crop up.

The World Health Organization has warned that a doubling of that number is "certainly unimaginable, but it's not impossible," if countries don't work together to suppress the virus' spread.

In the United States, India and Brazil -- which account for more than half of all global cases -- the pandemic shows no sign of slowing down.

The US, which surpassed 7 million cases on Friday, could see an explosion in Covid-19 infections as fall and winter set in, health experts warn. India, which hit 6 million cases on Monday, isn't far behind -- the country has recorded 5 million infections in the past two months alone. And the pandemic continues to roil South America. Though Brazil is the region's worst-affected nation, with more than 4.7 million infections, Argentina, Colombia and Peru are recording thousands of new cases daily.

Several countries in Europe are also seeing an increasing trend in case numbers, after lockdown policies were lifted over the summer, contributing to a new surge. Second waves are underway in the United Kingdom, Spain and France.

This appeared in the September 28 edition of CNN's Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.

Read the rest of the newsletter here:

7:28 a.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Investigating how the weather affects pandemics

From CNN's Lauren Kent

Numerous scientists have studied how the 1918 flu spread to become the deadliest pandemic in history and which interventions worked, research that is becoming increasingly relevant during the current coronavirus crisis.

But little research has been done on how environmental conditions affected the 1918 pandemic -- until now.

The 1918 flu coincided with the final years of the World War I, and it's been well documented that heavy rain and cold temperatures impacted many battles. Now, a new study reveals that the cold, rainy weather was part of a once-in-a-century climate anomaly that occurred from 1914 to 1919 and added to the severity of the 1918 pandemic.

"We knew before, of course, from photos and eyewitness testimonies that the battlefields of Europe were really muddy and rainy and soldiers died of all sorts of exposure, even drowning in the mud and the trenches sometimes. What is news is that in fact it was a six-year anomaly and not just one or two instances," said lead researcher Alexander More, a research associate at Harvard University's history department and an associate professor at the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute.

A team of more than a dozen scientists collected and analyzed an Alpine ice core to reconstruct the environmental conditions of Europe during the World War I. The process involves using a laser that melts a tiny bit from the ice surface and analyzing the chemicals released from each layer of water vapor. It's so precise they can pinpoint exact seasons from each layer of ice.

Researchers then compared that ice core data to historical records of deaths during that time period and records of precipitation and temperatures from each month.

The researchers discovered that lingering cold, wet weather during the winters of 1915, 1916 and 1918 was caused by abnormally high rushes of marine air from the North Atlantic. Deaths in Europe peaked three times during World War I and all the spikes occurred during or soon after heavy rain and cold weather, according to the study.

Read the full story:

7:05 a.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Quarantine failure led to more than 18,000 infections and 700 deaths, inquiry hears

From CNN's Meenketen Jha

The Honourable Jennifer Coate AO speaks during opening statements for the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry in Melbourne, Australia, on July 20.
The Honourable Jennifer Coate AO speaks during opening statements for the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry in Melbourne, Australia, on July 20. James Ross/Pool/Getty Images

Failed quarantine measures in two hotels in the Australian state of Victoria lead to the deaths of 768 people and the infection of 18,418, according to closing submissions at the Covid-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry.

Ben Ihle, counsel, assisting at the Victorian inquiry, said that the hotel quarantine became a "seeding ground" for the virus, as authorities linked the massive Covid-19 outbreak in Victoria to the hotel cluster using genomic sequencing.

The failure by the hotel quarantine program to contain the virus is responsible for the deaths of 768 and infection of some 18,418 others. One only needs to pause and reflect on those figures to appreciate the full scope of the devastation and despair. This was a program that failed to meet its primary objective -- to keep people safe from the virus," Ilhe said Monday.

"On the 23rd May, Victoria's Covid-19 death toll was 19. As of today, the total number of Covid related deaths in Victoria is 787," Ilhe added.

The number of cases in the state has risen exponentially from June to the present day. "As of 15th June, Victoria had record 1,732 confirmed cases of Covid-19. As of today, that number 20,150," Ilhe said.

The movement of the virus from the hotel cluster to the rest of the state was responsible for 99% of infections in the state, added Ilhe.

8:13 a.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Some countries are eying Sweden's "light-touch" Covid-19 response. It's a gamble that could backfire

Analysis by CNN's Angela Dewan in London

An expert on the spread of Covid-19 proclaimed last week that the pandemic in Sweden was essentially over — the virus there was "running out of steam," he said, as researchers suggest Swedes could be building immunity.

Such comments have emboldened governments flirting with the idea of adopting Sweden's "light-touch" approach, in the hope they can soften the blow to their economies.

There was reason for optimism when Kim Sneppen, from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, made his comments. Sweden's infection and death rates had been low for weeks, despite a second wave rolling over Europe. It seemed to mark a turnaround for the country, which experienced one of the highest death tolls in the world per capita during the spring.

The problem is, the science isn't in on whether immunity is building in Sweden at all, after the country resisted lockdowns and let the virus spread through much of its population.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, nonetheless, announced changes to restrictions in England last week, shaping the country's Covid-19 response in the image of Sweden's. Experts in both the UK and Sweden are warning that doing so could be dangerous.

Read the full story:

6:01 a.m. ET, September 28, 2020

Intensive care admissions more than triple in southern French region this month

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz in London and Pierre Bairin in Paris

Health workers at La Timone public hospital in Marseille, southeastern France, on September 25.
Health workers at La Timone public hospital in Marseille, southeastern France, on September 25. Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

Coronavirus admissions at intensive care units (ICU) in the Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur region of southern France have tripled since the beginning of September, according to official statistics.

In the region -- which includes the cities of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence -- only 55 ICU beds were occupied by Covid-19 patients on September 1, going up to 170 patients by September 27, according to the French health authority website.
The number of Covid-19 ICU patients in Paris went up from 169 to 339 in the same period. In France overall, the figure went up to 1,112 by September 27 compared to 418 at the start of the month, the health authority says. 

A restaurant owner removes chairs and tables on a terrace in Marseille on September 27, as the city closes for seven days due to the coronavirus outbreak.
A restaurant owner removes chairs and tables on a terrace in Marseille on September 27, as the city closes for seven days due to the coronavirus outbreak. Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty Images

Marseille spike: Bars and restaurants closed for seven days in the Marseille area, starting Sunday night, due to the deteriorating situation there.

The situation in the south of France will be reviewed after seven days, and could be extended by a further week if there is no improvement, the French Health Minister tweeted.

"We have learned about the virus and we have organized ourselves so we can mobilize up to 12,000 resuscitation beds," Olivier Veran wrote on Twitter.

But this mobilization means we have to discontinue other treatments. We have to keep this in mind and avoid it as much as possible for the health of the French."

Overall, France has recorded 538,569 coronavirus patients since the start of the outbreak, with an additional 11,123 logged in the 24 hours leading up to Sunday 8 a.m. ET. 

At least 31,727 people have died, with 27 registered in the 24 hours leading up to Sunday, said the health authority.

5:22 a.m. ET, September 28, 2020

1 in 3 parents won't get flu vaccine for their child during pandemic, study finds

From CNN's Sandee LaMotte

One-third of American parents have no plans to get their children vaccinated for the flu this year, according to the National Poll on Children's Health released Monday, despite the very real possibility their child could also catch the deadly Covid-19.

In addition, two-thirds of parents don't believe getting a flu shot for their child is more important this year, despite advice to the contrary from major government organizations and pediatricians.

"Children younger than 5 years old -- especially those younger than 2 -- are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, adding that getting a flu shot during the pandemic -- for all ages -- is more important than ever.

"We may see peaks of flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm the health care system, strain testing capacity and potentially reduce our ability to catch and treat both respiratory illnesses effectively," said Sarah Clark, associate director of the poll done by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Michigan Medicine, in a statement.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, once again stressed the importance of getting a flu shot this year, while speaking during the CITIZEN by CNN Conference on Tuesday.

"You should get it no later than the end of October," he told the moderator, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "If it's available now, you should get it now."

"Don't wait until any time beyond October," he added.

Read the full story:

4:27 a.m. ET, September 28, 2020

US reports nearly 37,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Alta Spells

The United States recorded 36,919 new coronavirus infections and 266 virus-related deaths on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The nationwide totals now stand at 7,115,338 cases, including 204,758 fatalities, per JHU's tally.

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: