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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5:29 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Seven former FDA commissioners condemn White House influence on agency 

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Seven former commissioners of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) joined forces Tuesday to condemn increasing White House pressure on the agency they once headed.

The administration pressure is eroding the faith Americans have in an agency set up to protect them from bad drugs, contaminated food and other dangers, Drs. Robert Califf, Scott Gottlieb, Margaret Hamburg, Jane Henney, David Kessler, Mark McClellan and Andy von Eschenbach wrote in a commentary in the Washington Post.

“The White House has said it might try to influence the scientific standards for vaccine approval put forward by the FDA or block the agency from issuing further written guidance on its criteria for judging the safety and benefits of a potential Covid-19 vaccine,” they wrote.
“On Sept. 15, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar revoked the FDA’s authority to establish rules for food and drug safety, instead claiming that sole authority for himself,” they added.
“This came in the wake of acknowledged acts of political influence on the FDA’s coronavirus communications, significant misstatements by the secretary and other political leaders about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma, and the overruling of FDA scientists on the regulation of covid-19 laboratory tests. At risk is the FDA’s ability to make the independent, science-based decisions that are key to combating the pandemic and so much more.”

The former commissioners, who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, said the actions were undermining 114 years of work the FDA has done to build trust.

If people doubt the safety of any coronavirus vaccine, they won’t get immunized, the seven argued.

Kessler now advises the Biden campaign. Gottlieb, who was FDA commissioner under Trump until last year, is on the board of Pfizer, which is working on a Covid-19 vaccine and McClellan, who served under George W. Bush, is on the board of Johnson & Johnson, also developing a coronavirus vaccine. 

4:10 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Opinion: NYC's rising Covid-19 cases are a warning

Opinion from Jill Filipovic

Editor's Note: Jill Filipovic is a journalist based in New York and author of the book "OK Boomer, Let's Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind." The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely her own.

Unless we act now, the US could be in for a long, hard, deadly winter.

Covid-19 cases have ticked up in 21 states. In New York City, positive Covid-19 tests have increased so significantly that they've driven the city's positive rate above 3% -- lower than in other parts of the US, but still the highest daily rate New York has seen since June.

And Europe is already in its second wave, with the UK and France recording the most cases since the beginning of the pandemic and sobering signs from other countries such as the Czech Republic and Spain, where the health minister said Friday his government has recommended a total lockdown in Madrid.

A perfect storm for a major Covid-19 resurgence looms in many parts of the world. With rates down and life returning to something resembling normal, a false sense of security seems to have taken hold, especially in the United States.

Masks are coming off. Gatherings are getting bigger and personal safety protocols looser. Schools, gyms, salons and indoor restaurants are reopening. Many students have returned to college campuses, where they are already socializing in groups and spreading the virus.

Temperatures outdoors are dropping, which will inevitably push many more people inside to dine, exercise, celebrate and socialize. Cases in some parts of Brooklyn and Queens "continue to grow at an alarming rate," said the New York City health department Monday. Part-time in-person learning just began Tuesday for New York City schools, which as of a week ago had already seen Covid-19 cases in 100 buildings, according to The New York Times.

The question, experts say, isn't whether a second wave is coming; it's how devastating a second wave will be.

Read the full opinion:

3:16 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

How the world's best airport is adapting during the pandemic

From CNN's Lilit Marcus

What happens to the world's best airport when the aviation industry comes to a halt?

That's a question that the operators of Singapore's Changi Airport have had to answer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Changi -- which has a hawker center, butterfly garden, movie theater and more among its offerings -- is so beloved by travelers that it has won the "best airport" award from Skytrax, an airline industry group, every year since 2013.

But as the country went into lockdown and tourists could no longer enter, those amenities risked going to seed. That's when Singapore Airlines (SIA), the city-state's national carrier, decided to get creative.

"With Covid-19 drastically reducing the number of flights operated by the SIA Group, we have created unique activities that would allow us to engage with our fans and customers during this time," the airline's CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a statement.

The airline is unveiling several activities, including a meal served inside of a parked Airbus A380.

Read the full story:

3:17 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Covid-19 cases surged among college-aged people just as universities reopened, studies say

From CNN's Lauren M. Johnson

Cases of Covid-19 surged among college-age individuals in August and September, just as schools were opening across the United States.

Two new studies released on Tuesday take an in-depth look what may be driving the numbers up.

Study 1: In the first study, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at nearly 100,000 coronavirus cases reported to the agency between August 2 and September 5.

The study found that during that period, weekly Covid-19 cases among people aged 18-22 increased 55% nationally. Researchers found the greatest increases in the Northeast at 144% and the Midwest at 123%.

"The observed increases in Covid-19 cases among persons aged 18-22 years could be driven by many factors, including changes in behavior or risk profiles resulting from multiple social, economic, and public policy changes during this period. Because approximately 45% of persons aged 18-22 years attend colleges and universities and 55% of those attending identified as White persons, it is likely that some of this increase is linked to resumption of in-person attendance at some colleges and universities," the researchers wrote in the CDC's weekly report on death and disease, the MMWR.
"Previous reports identified young adults as being less likely than other age groups to adhere to some Covid-19 prevention measures, which places them and their close contacts at higher risk for Covid-19," they added.

Study 2: The second study, led by a team at the North Carolina Department of Health and the University of North Carolina, showed what happened in real time as students began to return to campus on August 3. The university tried to make moving in safe, spreading it out over a week, reducing crowding in dining halls and taking other measures. But the students gathered and partied, anyway.

The university quickly determined the virus was spreading too fast and moved all classes online. It also asked students to move back home or off-campus.

By August 25, 670 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed, almost all of them in people under the age of 22.

The largest cluster was at an off-campus apartment complex affiliated with the university.

Read the full story:

1:48 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

US reports more than 42,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton

The United States recorded 42,185 new coronavirus infections and 914 virus-related deaths on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The nationwide totals now stand at 7,190,230 cases, including 205,986 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:

1:39 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

More than 60 million people in India may have caught Covid-19, survey finds

From CNN's Jessie Yeung and Esha Mitra

More than 63 million people in India may have contracted Covid-19, health authorities said on Tuesday -- about 10 times higher than the official reported figures.

A national survey of more than 29,000 people across 700 villages and wards found that about one in 15 people above the age of 10 had antibodies against the coronavirus, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research. The survey was conducted from mid-August to mid-September.

Antibody tests, also known as serology tests, check for proteins called antibodies in the immune system, which indicate if someone has been exposed to the virus.

Of the country's 1.3 billion citizens, more than 966 million are aged 10 or above, according to the government's most recent census in 2011. If one in 15 people of this group have been infected with Covid-19, that's a total of 63.78 million people.

As of Wednesday, India has reported more than 6.1 million cases and 96,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The survey suggests that for every one infection officially reported, there are actually 26 to 32 people infected who slip through the cracks, said Dr. Balram Bhargava, director of the medical council, at a news conference on Tuesday.

This falls in line with what many experts have warned for months -- that India's coronavirus crisis may be much more dire than official figures suggest.

There are numerous reasons for this: People simply aren't getting tested enough. There are sometimes errors in reporting and registering cases. Changing government strategies can muddle the numbers and paint a misleading picture of the situation.

The government began rolling back restrictions in May after a months-long lockdown, with ministers turning their attention to reopening the economy and public services. But experts, including Bhargava, warn that it's too soon to relax.

"Since a large proportion of the population is still susceptible, prevention fatigue has to be avoided," Bhargava said, adding that the risk of infection was highest in urban slums where millions live in crowded conditions, often with limited sanitation or running water.

Read the full story:

1:15 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

How you can help fight the hunger crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN's Lauren Lee

The coronavirus is leading to a secondary pandemic -- hunger.

The need for emergency food has exploded since March of 2020. According to an Oxfam report, this hunger crisis could soon kill more people each day than the infection itself.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates about 821 million people were suffering from chronic undernourishment before the pandemic. Globally this hunger crisis has already been exacerbated by climate change, existing conflicts, and inequalities. But now, coupled with Covid-19, people worldwide have hunger and malnutrition to worry about even more.

Here is how you can help:

12:02 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci says some Fox News coverage of the pandemic is "outlandish"

From CNN's Brian Stelter

Dr. Anthony Fauci goes everywhere, including on Fox News, to spread his messages about the public health measures that are necessary to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

But he sees Fox's prime time coverage of the pandemic and says some of it is "outlandish."

Fauci made the comments about Fox, unprompted, during an interview with me in conjunction with World News Day on Monday.

He also said he is concerned that misleading information about the virus is making its way to President Donald Trump.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is also sometimes a target of Fox News personalities such as Laura Ingraham.

Fox's opinion shows have sown doubt about the value of masks and defended Trump's downplaying of the crisis.

Fauci addressed the mixed messages regarding mask use in Monday's interview, saying, "if you look at the scientific data, the masks clearly work." He said face coverings are part of a multi-faceted approach of "keeping distance, avoiding crowds, washing hands, doing things outdoors much more than indoors -- all of that is a combination of prevention modalities that are easy to do."

Fauci said it is vital for public health officials to publicize "a consistent message as often as you possibly can, because there is so much misinformation during this very divisive time that we're in."

"The public really needs to know the facts," he added, "in going through this extraordinary experience that we're all going through."

Read the full story:

10:32 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Notre Dame head coach says Covid-19 "spread like wildfire" on his team

From CNN's Lauren M. Johnson

Team doctors have traced an outbreak of Covid-19 on the Notre Dame football team to two specific events, including a pregame meal, head coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.

The University of Notre Dame announced Monday that 18 players had tested positive for the virus. Kelly told ESPN the team doctors are the ones who traced the infection to their game against South Florida 10 days ago.

Ahead of the September 19 blowout win, the team congregated for a pregame meal, and during the game, one player was treated for dehydration after throwing up on the sideline. That player later tested positive for coronavirus, according to Kelly.

"Throughout our entire time together, we had not had one meal where we sat down together. Everything was grab and go," Kelly told said.

"We get into our game situation where we have pregame meal together, and that cost us. Big. We had somebody who was asymptomatic, and it spread like wildfire throughout our meeting area where we were eating and then it got guys in contact tracing."

Stemming from their recent testing results, Notre Dame said Monday that 25 football players were in isolation with 14 others in quarantine.

"Shifting sands": After the sideline incident in the South Florida game, Kelly disclosed the challenges of containing the virus.

"We have to think about giving antigen tests on the sidelines for stuff that we never thought of," he said. "That's the kind of shifting sands in this whole thing, learning in-game what do you do, what don't you do."

The positive tests forced the Fighting Irish to postpone last Saturday's game against Wake Forest University. The team's next game is scheduled for October 10 against Florida State University at home in South Bend, Indiana.