September 30 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Steve George and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 7:58 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020
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10:19 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

AstraZeneca vaccine trial still on hold in US but FDA’s Hahn won’t reveal why; it’s "confidential” 

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman and Jen Christensen

A general view of AstraZeneca on August 19, in Sydney, Australia.
A general view of AstraZeneca on August 19, in Sydney, Australia. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Drugmaker AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine trial in the United States is still on hold after a participant developed a serious illness, but the Food and Drug Administration commissioner won’t say why.

At the US Pharma and Biotech Summit hosted by the Financial Times Wednesday, US FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn was asked why the trial was still on pause in the US, even though it has resumed in Europe. Hahn said he couldn’t answer.

“I can’t speak to confidential commercial information and this summit knows that all too well,” he said.
“Our agency career officials in general take the issue of serious safety very seriously, the protection of the American people, very seriously ... We will look at any and all data, and we will make a decision when we have the data available to us regarding any issue, whether it's safety or effectiveness."

Hahn said he could not talk about a “specific issue” that may involve the AstraZeneca trial. 

“What I can tell you is that FDA is on the job with respect to looking at all safety and efficacy issues on all medical products,” he said.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson told CNN earlier that regulators in Britain, Brazil and South Africa had all decided to resume the trials. “We are continuing to work with the FDA to facilitate review of the information needed to make a decision regarding resumption of the US trial,” the spokesperson said.

“Regulators in each individual country determine when trials can start and they do this in their own time frame.”
9:21 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

United Airlines to furlough more than 13,000 employees starting Thursday

From CNN's Pete Muntean

A pilot walks by United Airlines planes as they sit parked at gates at San Francisco International Airport on April 12, 2020 in San Francisco, California.
A pilot walks by United Airlines planes as they sit parked at gates at San Francisco International Airport on April 12, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines said it will begin to furlough more than 13,000 employees Thursday.

Like American Airlines, which announced earlier this evening that it too will begin furloughing workers tomorrow, United said it would recall furloughed employees if Congress reached a stimulus deal soon.

“In a continuing effort to give the federal government every opportunity to act, we have made clear to leadership in the administration, Congress and among our union partners that we can and will reverse the furlough process if the CARES Act Payroll Support Program is extended in the next few days. We implore our elected leaders to reach a compromise, get a deal done now, and save jobs," United said in a letter to employees.

The letter added: “To our departing 13,000 family members: thank you for your dedication and we look forward to welcoming you back.” 

Some context: Earlier this evening, American Airlines announced it will begin to furlough 19,000 workers tomorrow.

8:50 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Covid-19 outbreak in Washington state connected to spa near Seattle

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The health department in King County, Washington, said at least 25 cases of Covid-19 have been connected to a spa in the city of Snoqualmie, near Seattle.

The outbreak was reported at Salish Lodge & Spa and includes 23 staff members and two guests.

The health department has asked anyone who visited the spa between Sept. 16 and Sept. 30 to get a coronavirus test and avoid contact with others for 14 days. The agency said Salish is cooperating and has agreed to temporarily suspend operations. Contract tracing has been hampered by the fact that the spa does not keep records of its visitors, except for those who stay overnight.

“We have done everything possible to protect our guests and team members since the beginning of the pandemic, including elevating our health, hygiene, safety and sanitation protocols and following health agency guidance,” Salish general manager Alan Stephens said in a statement.
8:37 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

University of Denver suspends 38 athletes from team activities for health order violations

From Raja Razek

University of Denver campus.
University of Denver campus. Shutterstock

The University of Denver has suspended 38 swimming and diving athletes from all team activities for violating state and public health order, and university policies "designed to address the spread of Covid-19," according to a message on the university's website. 

"The student-athletes attended a large, off-campus party knowing such a gathering violated restrictions," the message said. "As a result, these student-athletes will not participate in team activities for the rest of the fall quarter."

According to the message, possible outcomes for the violations could include suspension from the university for one or more academic terms. 

"We will continue to swiftly pursue disciplinary action if members of our community disregard the protocols and public health orders designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19," read the message. 

All 38 student-athletes are required to retest for Covid-19, according to the website. The university "imposed location restrictions until negative test results are received."

8:02 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

American Airlines set to furlough 19,000 workers starting tomorrow

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Jets are parked on runway 28 at the Pittsburgh International Airport on March 27, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Jets are parked on runway 28 at the Pittsburgh International Airport on March 27, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

American Airlines says it is poised to furlough 19,000 workers starting tomorrow. But, the airline says it is ready to reverse the furloughs should Congress strike a deal soon. 

In a new letter to employees, American CEO Doug Parker says he was hopeful that Wednesday talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would result in an 11th hour deal to extend airline payroll support by six months, avoiding furloughs. 

“Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that any of these efforts will come to fruition,” Parker wrote to employees. “However, in an effort to encourage cooperation and keep hope alive for our team, I informed the Secretary that if these efforts to extend PSP are successful over the next few days, we will reverse our furlough processes and recall any impacted team members.”

Some context: A CNN analysis found that roughly 50,000 flight attendants, pilots, mechanics, and gate agents will face losing their jobs at the stroke of midnight. 

7:48 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

New CDC coronavirus forecast sees a general flattening of deaths 

From CNN's Maggie Fox 

The latest forecast from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects between 219,000 and 232,000 Americans will have died from coronavirus by Oct. 24.

The so-called ensemble forecast, based on more than three dozen other forecast models, shows a large variation in predictions of how many people are likely to die in the coming three weeks.

“This week’s national ensemble forecast indicates an uncertain trend in new COVID-19 deaths reported over the next four weeks and predicts that 2,700 to 8,600 new deaths will likely be reported during the week ending October 24, 2020,” the CDC said in its projection. 

Some of the variation depends on how people are expected to comply with social distancing measures.

The last CDC ensemble forecast, released Sept. 24, projected 214,000 to 226,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Oct. 17.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. 

According to Johns Hopkins University, 206,825 people have died from coronavirus in the US, with 7.2 million reported cases.

7:07 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

MLB will allow limited number of fans to attend World Series

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

The Phillie Phanatic shows off the foul ball he caught amongst the cardboard cutout fans during an MLB baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on August 16, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Phillie Phanatic shows off the foul ball he caught amongst the cardboard cutout fans during an MLB baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on August 16, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rich Schultz/Getty Images

A limited number of fans will be able to attend the National League Championship Series (NLCS) and the World Series in Texas next month, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced Wednesday in a statement.

Both best-of-seven game series will be played at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

MLB will make about 11,500 tickets available for each game with 10,550 fans spread throughout the ballpark and 950 in suites. Tickets go on sale on Oct. 6 at 11 a.m ET.

MLB said it has received approvals to host fans and will implement health and safety protocols in conjunction with state and local regulations such as:

  • Tickets in the seating bowl will be sold in groups of four contiguous seats, called pods. 
  • Each pod will be a minimum of six feet from each other.
  • No seats will be sold within 20 feet of where a player can be located on the field, in the dugouts or in the bullpen.
  • Masks will be mandatory for all fans except when actively eating or drinking at their ticketed seats.

Game 1 of the NLCS is Oct. 12 and will be the first time fans will attend any game during the 2020 season.

The 116th World Series begins on Oct. 20. The Fall Classic will be the first neutral site World Series in modern baseball history.

5:33 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Mississippi governor lifts mask mandate except for schools

From CNN’s Claudia Dominguez

Gov. Reeves speaks at a news conference on Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi.
Gov. Reeves speaks at a news conference on Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi. Mississippi Public Broadcasting/Pool

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said the statewide mask mandate will end on Wednesday given that the numbers for average new Covid-19 cases have declined.

“It has been a great few weeks for Covid-19 numbers,” Reeves said. “We’ve cut our average number of new cases in half, we’ve cut hospitalizations by two thirds of what they once were.” 

Covid-19-related hospitalizations declined in the state to below 600 patients, from approximately 1,250 patients at the peak of the pandemic in July, according to the governor. The number of patients in intensive care unit beds has also declined to 138 from 337 at its peak.

Reeves said that while the mask mandate was lifted, he would still be wearing a mask and said he expected Mississippians to do the same.

“It is the smart, prudent, and wise thing to do,” he said. “I believe this is the right decision to make at this time. I believe that this will protect my fellow Mississippians and give us the opportunity should things not continue to improve or stay relatively flat, it gives us more opportunity in the future.”

Reeves said a new limited executive order would go into effect immediately to prevent “rampant Covid-19 transmission." 

The new order keeps limitations on large gatherings, bars, parties and stadiums. Indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 20 people, outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 100 people.

Social distancing rules would also remain and mask requirements will still be in place at schools, the governor said.

Reeves also urged schools that were closed to reopen.

“It can be done safely,” he said. Reeves also said a small increase in K-12 activities would be allowed.

Some more context: Thirty of Mississippi’s 82 counties have reported an increase in cases from the previous two weeks, Reeves said. 

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said at the news conference that while there was general decline in most counties, some counties have seen “modest increases."

“Jones, Lamar and Lee counties saw a 5% increase in cases over the previous week,” Dobbs said.  

5:21 p.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Georgia extends Covid-19 public health emergency to November

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp walks away after greeting Vice President Mike Pence as he arrived on Air Force Two at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, on Wednesday, September 30.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp walks away after greeting Vice President Mike Pence as he arrived on Air Force Two at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, on Wednesday, September 30. Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order today extending the state’s current Covid-19 restrictions and the public health state of emergency, according to a news release from his office.

The governor’s new executive order takes effect on Oct. 1 at 12 a.m. and runs through Oct. 15 at 11:59 p.m. The public health emergency has been extended until Nov. 9, the release said.

With the new executive order, workers at restaurants and bars can return to work once they have been symptom-free for 24 hours following a known or suspected positive Covid-19 diagnosis, according to the release.

Georgia will also allow certain SAT and ACT test score deadlines to be extended for HOPE and Zell scholarship eligibility.

Nearly all other previous guidelines and restrictions pertaining to the state of Georgia's Covid-19 pandemic response remain unchanged, according to the release.