September 29 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020
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12:34 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

New York City could implement new restrictions as early as tomorrow, mayor says

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

New York City could implement further restrictions as early as tomorrow, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference today.

Earlier in the news conference, de Blasio cautioned that if necessary, the city will prohibit gatherings, except small ones, and may close non-essential businesses. 

“No one wants that to happen if it can be avoided,” said de Blasio. He added all options are on the table.

The mayor added that New York City middle schools and high schools are still on track for in-person learning on Thursday. Up to 500,000 will learn in person this week, the mayor said.

CNN has previously reported those who learn in person are not in school full-time. They are still hybrid. Other families have chosen to do fully remote learning.

“I have total faith in our educators that we will get there and be able to provide a great school year for our kids” de Blasio said.

12:59 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

German chancellor warns of drastic increase in Covid-19 infections over the winter

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media in Berlin on September 29.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media in Berlin on September 29. Clemens Bilan/Pool/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced an array of new measures aimed at stopping a recent spike in novel coronavirus infections in the country. 

At a press conference following a meeting with Germany’s state governors, Merkel announced that gatherings in public venues would be limited to no more than 50 people in areas with a large number of coronavirus infections.  

“We know that a more difficult time is coming, fall and winter,” Merkel said as she justified the news restrictions which also include fines of at least 50 Euros for patrons in bars and restaurants who provide false contact data used by authorities for tracing.  

Merkel also issued a strong warning saying that if the current trajectory of rising coronavirus infections continues unabated, Germany could see up to 19,200 new infections per day in in the winter months.

“This underscores the urgency to act,” Merkel added.

Frederik Pleitgen reports:

12:06 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

New York governor will meet with religious leaders in the orthodox community after uptick in cases

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a media briefing in New York on July 23.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a media briefing in New York on July 23. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will be meeting with religious leaders in the orthodox community, along with local officials, following uptick of cases in clusters throughout the state. 

“If you look at those clusters and you look at those zip codes, you will see there’s an overlap with large orthodox Jewish communities, and that is a fact.”

“So I will be directly meeting with them to talk about it," he added. “This is a concern for their community, public health concern for their community, it’s also a public health concern for surrounding communities.”

Earlier he remarked that “this is probably the largest cluster that we have addressed before – and the clusters are Brooklyn, Orange, Rockland.”

11:55 a.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Research shows Americans over 30 have been drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Americans over the age of 30 have been drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic compared to this time last year, and there could be consequences to their physical and mental health, researchers reported Tuesday.

Overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by about 14% from 2019, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Network Open. That increase averages out to about one additional drinking day per month by 75% of adults.

RAND Corporation sociologist Michael Pollard and colleagues analyzed a nationally representative sample of 1,540 people ages 30 to 80. The participants completed a survey about their drinking habits between April 29 and June 9 of 2019 and then again between May 28 and June 16 of this year.

The volunteers reported they drank alcohol on more days every week. They also reported increases in the number of drinks they had; the number of heavy drinking days; and the number of alcohol-related problems over the last 30 days between 2019 and 2020. 

Frequency of drinking increased by 17% among women, 19% among people ages 30 to 59 and by 10% among White people.

“At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviors, mental health issues and violence,” the World Health Organization said in April.

The researchers say it’s important to watch for whether the increases in alcohol consumption persist over the pandemic, and whether there will be physical and mental health consequences as a result.


12:13 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Airline workers say they feel abandoned by Congress as the pandemic hits the industry hard

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A United Airlines plane takes off from Los Angeles International Airport on September 15.
A United Airlines plane takes off from Los Angeles International Airport on September 15. AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

United Airlines, hit hard during the pandemic, is set to lay off thousands of employees on Oct. 1.

Flight attendants for United Airlines, who are scheduled to be furloughed, say they “absolutely” feel abandoned Congress.

“We’ve shown up every single day throughout this pandemic to deliver, you know, medical supplies to our nurses, our doctors. We’ve taken people, you know, that were in the Cleveland clinic to New York in a hotspot, to help save Americans and help our Americans,” said Amanda Steinbrunn, one of the flight attendants.

"We’ve shown up with the uncertainty of possibly catching Covid ourselves. And we expect Congress to do their jobs, to help us,” she told CNN Tuesday.

Right now, the layoffs and furloughs seem inevitable and their only hope is for Congress to pass the clean extension of the payroll support program, said Kacy Lunceford, another flight attendant.

“My message to Congress is that we are real people. We our aviation's first responders and front line workers. And our livelihood and our health care is literally in their hands. Pass the payroll extension program.”

Steinbrunn, however, says she is hopeful that the industry will bounce back as circumstances change.

“There's so many circumstances that could change our industry overnight, a vaccine for one. More information about the virus and how it spreads and understanding how this will affect us in the long run,” she said. “I think in our future, we'll get back to where we used to be, and having those employees come back that have worked so hard for this industry and deserve to be working.”

Watch more:

11:45 a.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Illinois governor self-isolating for 14 days after staffer tests positive for Covid-19 

From CNN's Gregory Lemos  

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a press briefing on May 3 in Chicago.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a press briefing on May 3 in Chicago. Erin Hooley/The Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is self-isolating for 14 days after one of his staffers tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement from his office Tuesday.  

"In accordance with state and federal guidelines, the governor and all close contacts will self-isolate for 14 days," the release says.   

The staffer attended events with the governor September 23 in Chicago, September 24 in Marion, and September 27 in Marseilles. Both the governor and the staffer were wearing masks "during the entirety of their interactions."  

According to the release, the staff member was tested on September 23 but tested negative. After experiencing symptoms, the staff member was tested again Monday and was positive, the release says.  

Contact tracing and notifications to individuals who were exposed are underway. It was unclear from the press release whether the governor has tested negative or positive but says, “all staff who currently report to the office are being tested and must test negative before reporting back to the office. Yesterday, all samples that were ran to test for Covid-19 came back negative.”

CNN has reached out to the governor’s office for clarification.

11:31 a.m. ET, September 29, 2020

NYC's daily positivity rate climbs over 3% for first time in months

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

People walk in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, on September 24.
People walk in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, on September 24. Amir Hamja/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The daily positivity rate is above 3% in New York City for the first time in months, according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

However, the city uses the seven day rolling average to determine if schools should close. That number stands at 1.38% citywide which is below the mark for school closures.

The daily positivity rate is 3.25% which is under the threshold of five percent. Nine zip codes with a serious problem are impacting the overall daily number according to the mayor who notes these are nine out of 146 zip codes in the city, but it’s still a “cause for real concern,” he said Tuesday.

“We have to be on high alert to make sure we fight back this challenge,” said the mayor.

The mayor provided the other daily metrics the city uses.

There were 71 admitted to hospitals with suspected cases of Covid-19 which is under the 200 threshold, but the confirmed positive rate is 16.4%.

There are 338 new positive cases, which is under the threshold of 550.

“This is an inflection point. We have to take more action at this point and more serious action and we will be escalating with each day depending on what we see happening on the ground and the test results we are getting,” said de Blasio.

Anyone not wearing a face covering will be offered one and anyone who refuses will be reminded they can be fined. If they still refuse, they will be fined starting today.

Private schools and child care centers will close if they do not meet the Department of Education standards.

Dr. Mitch Katz, President and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals public system and who is from South Brooklyn, said the city is going to have to take action if it is not able to decrease the infections.

Testing capacity will be increased by tomorrow with 11 mobile testing sites moved to the zip codes affected.

Rapid testing capacity will be added tomorrow at community provider offices in Orthodox communities and at three Health and Hospital locations – one in Queens and two in Brooklyn.

At least 350 personnel will be on the ground starting today including those form the Test and Trace corps and the city is conducting robocalls.

Remember: These numbers were released by the city’s public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

11:13 a.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Two NFL teams suspend in-person activities following positive Covid-19 test results

From CNN's David Close

A Tennessee Titans helmet is on the sideline during a game in Nashville on September 20.
A Tennessee Titans helmet is on the sideline during a game in Nashville on September 20. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The National Football League has announced that the Tennessee Titans and the Minnesota Vikings have indefinitely suspended in-person activities following three Titans players and five staff members testing positive for Covid-19. The Vikings played the Titans this past Sunday and have not announced any positive cases. 

The league and players union said in a statement that both teams are working with "our infectious disease experts, to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments."

The statement added: "All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available." 

10:29 a.m. ET, September 29, 2020

38% of US adults say they have "a lot" of trust in scientists to do what's right for the country

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman

A new survey reveals broad trust in science around the world, although the United States shows the widest split between those on either side of the political spectrum.

The survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, is a snapshot of attitudes toward a range of scientific issues leading up to the peak months of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is based on more than 32,000 interviews in 20 countries conducted from October 2019 to March 2020.

"This survey gives a portrait of global opinion on the place of science in society as challenges from the coronavirus outbreak were taking hold,” Cary Funk, Pew Research Center’s director of science and society research, said in a statement.

Overall, 38% of US adults said they have "a lot" of trust in scientists to do what's right for the country — breaking down to 62% of respondents on the left and 20% on the right. 

For comparison, 56% of US adults said same of the military, 13% said the same of news media, 11% for business leaders and 8% for national government. 

The report addresses a range of other issues, including widespread acceptance of childhood vaccines and concerns about climate change — again, with the United States showing the largest ideological gap between liberals and conservatives on the latter. In addition, 63% of US respondents said the government is doing "too little" to address climate change.

In the months since the survey was conducted, experts have publicly lamented a politicization of science surrounding the pandemic in the US — including attitudes toward masks, beliefs that political pressure may rush a vaccine to market, and questions swirling around guidelines issued by the country's top public health officials.

Read the full survey here.