October 1 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Steve George, Tara John, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 2, 2020
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11:51 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

World's poorest countries receive $150 million to prepare for delivery of Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN’s James Frater

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has approved $150 million of funding to help 92 low-and middle-income countries “jumpstart” their “readiness to deliver Covid-19 vaccines, in the form of planning, technical assistance and cold chain equipment.”

“The decisions taken today serve the twin goals of moving forward rapidly with our need to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in a statement on Thursday. 

Okonjo-Iweala added that the decision will support, “lower-income countries’ ability to maintain routine immunization programmes and protect against the threat of other infectious diseases.”

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance announced earlier this week it had so far secured 200 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccines for the world’s poorest countries. 

The vaccines will have a ceiling price of US$1.60 to US$2 per dose for the 92 of the world’s low income countries. 

Through the COVAX facility coordinated by Gavi, 75 countries have formally committed to providing funding to provide at least part of the cost for procuring the vaccine for poorer nations.

 

11:40 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Not a "good look:" White House fight over masks signaled Covid-19 plans running awry

From CNN's Vivian Salama

President Donald Trump walks outside the White House on March 3.
President Donald Trump walks outside the White House on March 3. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The first masks arrived on the White House grounds in February by special order of the National Security Council, mobilizing early on to address the emerging threat of the coming coronavirus. Job one in their emergency response was to take personal precautions, preparing for the critical work at hand, multiple officials tell CNN.

But word that some NSC staffers were being told to wear masks quickly made its way back to the West Wing and it wasn't long before a sharp dictum came down.

"If you have the whole West Wing running around wearing masks, it wasn't a good look," one administration official recalled of the directive that came down from senior staff and lawyers.

The West Wing wanted to "portray confidence and make the public believe there was absolutely nothing to worry about," the official said, revealing the image-conscious reason for the opposition to masks for the first time.

The directive opened a schism in the White House complex that would ultimately hinder its ability to contain the spread of the new virus they were now calling Covid-19. Interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration officials show how that fissure appeared and spread even as confirmed cases in the US began to grow.

The officials all requested anonymity either because they were not authorized to discuss the matter or because they were sharing private conversations with people currently in the administration. But they tell a consistent story of how the White House attempts to deal with the virus were dogged by the president's fixation on one thing: optics.

The ensuing disaster has now claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans, in what may be the most politicized health crisis of the modern presidency. The radical polarization that now grips the country traces back to the very first workplace where it really sank in, at the West Wing of the White House.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews, addressing questions about this story, said that the President "took the virus seriously from the beginning, as evidenced by his administration taking early steps in January to protect the American people." It was Democrats and the media, she says, who were obsessing at the time -- "over the partisan and futile impeachment trial."

But several key officials tell a consistent and different story, about image management and the trouble it caused in pandemic response from the very beginning.

"We lost so much time," a former administration official said, looking back. "The whole thing was mind-blowing. This could have been so different."

11:22 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

European Medicines Agency starts rolling review of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine candidate

From CNN’s James Frater and Vasco Cotovio

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has started a rolling review of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine candidate, it said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the EMA, “a rolling review is one of the regulatory tools that the Agency uses to speed up the assessment of a promising medicine or vaccine during a public health emergency,” and it basically means that instead of evaluating all the data on the vaccine after it is completed, the agency will evaluate the data as it becomes available, in order to speed up its potential approval, if all the safety and effectiveness criteria are met.

 “The decision to start the rolling review of the vaccine is based on preliminary results from non-clinical and early clinical studies suggesting that the vaccine triggers the production of antibodies and T cells (cells of the immune system, the body’s natural defences) that target the virus,” the EMA said in its statement. “The rolling review will continue until enough evidence is available to support a formal marketing authorisation application.”

“EMA will complete its assessment according to its usual standards for quality, safety and effectiveness,” the EMA also said in its statement.

The EMA had used the rolling review process in the assessment of the Covid-19 medicine remdesivir, but it’s the first time it is applying it to a vaccine.

Trials for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine have been resumed in Britain, Brazil and South Africa after a participant developed a serious illness, but remain on hold in the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn confirmed on Wednesday, without revealing why.

“I can’t speak to confidential commercial information and this summit knows that all too well,” he said.

11:15 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

"We are nearing a crisis," Wisconsin doctor says as state marks record high of Covid-19 related deaths 

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Dr. Paul Casey on CNN's "Newsroom" on October 1.
Dr. Paul Casey on CNN's "Newsroom" on October 1. CNN

Wisconsin leaders and health experts are sounding the alarm as the state reported its highest death count on record Thursday — 27 people died of Covid-19 Wednesday, according to the state's Covid-19 website. For context, the state reported its second highest death count on May 27 at 22.

“We are nearing a crisis in my community,” said Dr. Paul Casey, medical director of the emergency department at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “This spike we're seeing in Brown County, Wisconsin, should be a wake-up call to anyone who lives here that our community is facing a crisis.”

Currently, one of Green Bay’s four hospitals has more patients than the entire city had at its peak in April, Dr. Casey told CNN on Thursday. He said he hopes the national attention on the coronavirus cases in the community “will get people to wake up.” 

This comes as President Trump is set to hold two rallies this weekend in the cities of Green Bay and Lacrosse in Wisconsin. Four hospitals in Green Bay are near capacity.

 “Those of us in the medical community are very worried about that,” Dr. Casey said. “We're very concerned about any large gathering, not only weddings, funerals, but much less a very large rally with a bunch of people together without masks.”

11:30 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

“Imperative” for those in zip code clusters to get tested, New York City mayor says 

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a briefing on October 1.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a briefing on October 1. NYC Media

The percent of people who tested positive for Covid-19 city wide is at 1.59%, under the 5% threshold, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said. The seven day rolling average is 1.52%.

The mayor said its “imperative” for those in impacted cluster zip codes to get tested adding “overwhelmingly the rest of the city is doing very very well.”

The mayor said 10 zip codes are now testing above 3% — with some having a positivity rate that runs as high as over 6%.

The city is also watching a cluster in Williamsburg Brooklyn which has not yet reached the 3% threshold. Six other zip-codes are being monitored beyond Williamsburg.

Nearly 1,000 city personnel are doing outreach and over 1,100 tests were done on Wednesday, he said. After hundreds of business visits, 130 warnings and 16 violations were issued, the mayor said, not specifying where. There were 160 school visits, he added.

The mayor said the city will continue to watch to determine whether a fuller shut down is required in hot spot communities, adding that as of now there is no indication of an upsurge with regards to schools associated with those communities.

The city's latest figures: The daily number of people admitted to hospitals for Covid-19 in New York City is at 75, under the 200 threshold. The confirmed positivity rate for Covid-19 for those patients is 22%

With regard to new reported cases on a seven-day average, with a threshold of 550 cases, NYC reports at least 394.

School reopenings: The mayor, alongside the city schools chancellor, also championed what he called the success of city officials, union members, staff and families as he says half a million kids this week go through the front doors of schools.

The mayor encouraged parents to fill out waivers to allow their children to be tested monthly within schools, adding testing is to begin next week.

“Those consent forms have been sent home, we are going to start testing next week,” he said.

He said it was free, quick and easy, simple and non-invasive. “Please parents lets fill out those forms and get them back right away,” de Blasio said.

“This is a monumental milestone for our city,” Chancellor Richard Carranza said Thursday.

“We are the only major school district in the entire country to safely open our schools for in- person learning," he added.

“This was an is a colossal undertaking and wouldn’t be possible without every single staff member every family and all new Yorkers," Carranza said.

10:20 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Wisconsin reports record high of Covid-19 related deaths and hospitalizations climbing 

From CNN's Gregory Lemos 

The state of Wisconsin reported a grim new milestone Thursday — 27 people died of Covid-19 Wednesday, according to the state's Covid-19 website. That is the highest death count on record for the state.  For context, the state reported its second highest death count on May 27 at 22.  

The state is also reporting a record high of at least 683 Covid-19 related hospitalizations, up from the 646 that were reported Wednesday. 

The percentage of available hospital beds dropped one percentage point to 17%. It was 18% Wednesday.  Twenty-nine percent of hospitalized Covid-19 patients are in intensive care units, down slightly from yesterday's report of 32%, according to the website.  

Thirteen hundred and fifty-four people have died of Covid-19 in the state of Wisconsin, according to the website.  

10:51 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Trump “was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation 'infodemic,’” study says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard, Betsy Klein and Maggie Fox

President Donald Trump holds a news conference at the White House on September 23.
President Donald Trump holds a news conference at the White House on September 23. Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A new study suggests that mentions of President Trump played a big role in conversations involving Covid-19 misinformation in the first few months of the pandemic.

"We conclude that the President of the United States was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation 'infodemic,'" the researchers wrote in the study.

The study, which has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, was released online by the Cornell Alliance for Science on Thursday. Co-author Sarah Evanega said the peer-review process was taking too long and the authors chose to post it without outside input, and to alert news media, for quicker release.

The researchers — from Cornell University and Cision Global Insights in Michigan – analyzed media coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic across the Internet, podcasts, television, radio and other platforms between January 1 and May 26. The alliance is funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The analysis showed that English-language media outlets published more than 1.1 million articles mentioning Covid-19 misinformation.

Among those articles, the researchers found five different sub-sections of topics that emerged within the overall Covid-19 misinformation conversations:

  • Various misinformation sub-topics such as "miracle cures" and conspiracies, which made up 46.6%
  • Mentions of Trump within broader misinformation conversations, which made up 37.9%
  • Coverage of the spread of misinformation or the "infodemic" itself, which made up 23.4% fact-checking, which made up 16.4%
  • Mentions of Trump only in the context of misinformation, which made up 10.3%. 

"It is apparent from the data that mentions of President Trump within the context of COVID-19 misinformation comprise by far the largest single component of the infodemic," the researchers wrote. "Trump mentions comprised 37.9% of the overall infodemic, well ahead of 'miracle cures', which comprised 26.4%." 

The White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

 

10:06 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Additional Covid-19 cases force NFL to move postponed game to later in season

From CNN's David Close

The NFL has announced the Tennessee Titans have additional members of the team who have tested positive for Covid-19. There are now five players and six staff who have tested positive for the virus this week. 

The league had originally planned to reschedule Sunday's postponed Titans game with the Pittsburgh Steelers for this coming Monday or Tuesday but now says the game will be slated for later this year.

The Titans facilities remain closed with no in-person activities allowed.

The NFL statement in full reads:

The Pittsburgh-Tennessee game scheduled for Week 4 will be rescheduled to later this season after one additional Titans player and one personnel member tested positive for COVID-19 today. An announcement of the new game date will be made shortly. 
The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel. The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.
10:02 a.m. ET, October 1, 2020

H&M is closing 250 stores because of the coronavirus pandemic

From CNN’s Jordan Valinsky

A person leaves an H&M store on June 18 in San Francisco.
A person leaves an H&M store on June 18 in San Francisco. Michael Short/Bloomberg/Getty Images

H&M is closing 250 stores next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, as people increasingly shop online.

The fast-fashion retailer has 5,000 stores worldwide, so Thursday's announcement accounts for 5% of its total store count. 

 "More and more customers started shopping online during the pandemic," following temporary store closures that, at its peak, totaled about 80% of its store count, H&M said in a statement Thursday.

The Swedish retailer said its third quarter, which encompasses sales from June to August, recovered as time went on because of store reopenings and "strong and profitable" growth in online shopping. Still, September sales declined 5% compared to the same month a year ago. 

"Although the challenges are far from over, we believe that the worst is behind us and we are well placed to come out of the crisis stronger," CEO Helena Helmersson said in release.

The coronavirus has accelerated the trend toward online shopping, which was already disrupting the retail industry and battering major chains before the pandemic hit. H&M rival Inditex, which owns Zara and other fast-fashion brands, said earlier this year it plans to close as many as 1,200 stores this year and next.

H&M and Inditex aren't the only retailers feeling the pinch. American Eagle Outfitter and GameStop also recently announced plans to close hundreds of stores because of the rise of online shopping.