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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11:34 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Pfizer CEO tries to distance his company from politics around coronavirus vaccine

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

In this Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 file photo, Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer, prepares to testify before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug prices, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
In this Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 file photo, Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer, prepares to testify before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug prices, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who has enthusiastically promised to know by the end of this month whether the company’s coronavirus vaccine will work, tried to distance himself and his company from politics Thursday.

“The amplified political rhetoric around vaccine development, timing and political credit is undercutting public confidence,” Bourla said in a letter to Pfizer employees posted online Thursday.

He said the debate this week between US President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden made the issue too overtly political.

“Once more, I was disappointed that the prevention for a deadly disease was discussed in political terms rather than scientific facts. People, who are understandably confused, don’t know whom or what to believe,” Bourla wrote in the letter.

Bourla said Pfizer was racing to make a vaccine for the good of the world.

“Now, we are approaching our goal and despite not having any political considerations with our preannounced date, we find ourselves in the crucible of the US Presidential election,” he wrote.
“In this hyperpartisan year, there are some who would like us to move more quickly and others who argue for delay. Neither of those options are acceptable to me."

Bourla added: "We would never succumb to political pressure."

“I can’t predict exactly when, or even if our vaccine will be approved by the FDA for distribution to the public. But I do know that the world will be safer if we stop talking about the vaccines’ delivery in political terms and focus instead on a rigorous independent scientific evaluation and a robust independent approval process.”

Trump has claimed a vaccine could be ready before Election Day on November 3. Most vaccine manufacturers and public health experts, including Trump’s own advisers, have said that’s unlikely.

But Bourla has repeatedly promised his company will know whether its vaccine protects people from coronavirus by the end of October. 


11:09 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Trump tweets he and first lady will begin a "quarantine process"

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

US President Donald Trump said that both he and First Lady Melania Trump will begin their “quarantine process” until they get their coronavirus test results, following news that his top aide Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus. 

“Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!” Trump tweeted Thursday night. 

Hicks traveled with the President multiple times this week, including to the presidential debate in Cleveland and a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. 

10:40 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Everyone near Hope Hicks in past week should be quarantined, including Trump, infectious disease expert says

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman, Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta

Anyone who’s been near US President Donald Trump’s top aide Hope Hicks for more than a few minutes should quarantine at home following her positive test for Covid-19, a leading infectious disease expert said.

Hicks traveled with Trump multiple times recently, including to the debate in Cleveland Tuesday.

“Everyone who's associated with Miss Hicks in the recent past should be quarantined at home and stay at home and not go out anywhere. That would be routine public health policy,” Vanderbilt University’s Dr. William Schaffner told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday night. 

White House staff are routinely tested for Covid-19. “This is another example where you can demonstrate that testing does not prevent infection,” Schaffner said. “They do a lot of testing in the White House, but you need to wear the mask.”

Who is at risk: Some White House staffers who were working with Hicks were notified Thursday in a development first reported by Bloomberg News, but it’s taken 24 hours for others, such as the media who cover the Trump administration, including flying to rallies and fundraisers, to learn of their potential exposure.

“This is not a model of a vigorous insightful public health investigation. You want to notify people immediately, tell them to shelter at home, to start their testing process and watch what happens,” Schaffner said.
“We need to prevent further transmission of this virus and that's routine practice public health practice.”

The odds are that Trump might have been exposed, too: “If the President were a normal person, they would stay at home, their symptoms would be monitored, they would be tested periodically. You would be sure then to shelter him from others, so he doesn't potentially transmit this infection to others,” Schaffner said.

Trump supporters and staff have not always been doing what they need to do to prevent transmission and attending rallies and having staffers around is “exactly the wrong thing to do,” said Schaffner.

“This is not a political statement. The virus doesn't care. This is a simple public health statement, the virus will spread and I promise you, in these large rallies, the virus is there, it’s contagious and it's spreading, just as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west," he said.


11:09 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

President Trump says he and first lady have just been retested for Covid-19 after aide's positive test

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

US President Donald Trump confirmed that his top aide Hope Hicks has tested positive for coronavirus and said he and First Lady Melania Trump took a test Thursday evening. 

Trump said he doesn't know whether he has contracted the virus, saying he spends “a lot of time with" Hicks but noted she wears a “lot of masks.”

“She did test positive, I just heard about this. She tested positive. She’s a hard worker, lot of masks, she wears masks a lot but she tested positive," the President said. during a call-in appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

"So whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don't know."

He added, “I just went for a test and we’ll see what happens, I mean, who knows… I spent a lot of time with Hope and so does the First Lady, and she's tremendous.”

Trump speculated that Hicks could have contracted the virus from an interaction with a supporter. 

“She’s a very warm person. She has a hard time, when soldiers and law enforcement comes up to her, you know, she wants to treat them great, not say, ‘Stay away, I can't get near you.’ It's a very, very tough disease,” he said. 

Trump said he wasn't sure when he would get the test results back, but indicated it would most likely be tonight or tomorrow morning. 

Hicks' positive test marks the fifth known White House coronavirus case and the closest to the President since the pandemic began.

She traveled with the President multiple times recently, including to the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, and was seen boarding Marine One, along with several other of the President's closest aides -- Jared Kushner, Dan Scavino and Nicholas Luna -- none of whom wore masks, on Wednesday as Trump was heading to a campaign rally in Minnesota.

Read the full story:

9:58 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Diversity is important to potential Covid-19 vaccine trials, FDA’s Hahn says

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Stephen Hahn testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine Covid-19 in Washington, on September 23.
Dr. Stephen Hahn testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine Covid-19 in Washington, on September 23. Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

It’s important that a diverse group of Americans, including the elderly, is part of the ongoing Covid-19 clinical trials now underway in the United States, US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said.

“We have been very clear about diversity,” Hahn told the National Consumers League during a discussion Tuesday.

Hahn said the FDA has discussed the importance of including different populations in clinical trials in vaccine development guidelines issued in June.

“We've talked a lot about ethnic diversity,” he said. “We also have talked about diversity with respect to those who are elderly, but also those who have comorbidities, other illnesses that put them at risk,” he added.

“We have made it clear that our expectation is that the data we receive will be generalizable to all of Americans," Hahn said.

He continued that the agency has been looking at enrollment for the clinical trials "to ensure that there's adequate representation of all groups so that the data are generalizable. That's very important to the agency,” he said.

However, in the three large-scale vaccine clinical trials currently underway in the US, children are not part of those groups. Hahn did not address that during the discussion.

9:24 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Moscow mayor orders employers to have 30% of staff working from home by October 5

From CNN's Zahra Ullah in Moscow and Hande Atay Alam in Atlanta

Women eat lunch in an almost empty restaurant in Moscow on September 29.
Women eat lunch in an almost empty restaurant in Moscow on September 29. Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

Companies in Moscow must enforce remote working from October 5 for at least 30% of their staff to help stem a recent surge of Covid-19 cases, the Russian capital's Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced on Thursday.

Sobyanin wrote in a blog post that all employees over the age of 65 and people with chronic illnesses will also be required to work remotely. Exceptions will be made for staff whose presence in the workplace is critical to the functioning of the organization as well as for medical organizations and defense companies.

“I hope that these measures will be enough to bring down the growth in the infection rate, and we will not have to make more difficult decisions,” Sobyanin wrote. “Be extremely careful. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.” 

Moscow reported 2,424 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, according to state media, bringing the city’s tally of cases to 295,025. Across the city, 5,282 people have died from the disease, including a further 28 people in the past 24 hours.

9:07 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

Hope Hicks, one of Trump's aides, tests positive for coronavirus, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta

In this Sept. 12, 2020, file photo, Counselor to the President Hope Hicks arrives with President Donald Trump at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nev.
In this Sept. 12, 2020, file photo, Counselor to the President Hope Hicks arrives with President Donald Trump at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nev. Andrew Harnik/AP

Hope Hicks, one of President Trump's top aides, has tested positive for coronavirus, three sources told CNN.

Hicks traveled with the President multiple times recently, included to the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday and was seen boarding Marine One on Wednesday as Trump was heading to a campaign rally in Minnesota.

"The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously," White House spokesperson Judd Deere told CNN in a statement when asked about their level of contact. "White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling."

Some White House staffers who were in close proximity were notified of the positive test result today, the official said. 

This development was first reported by Bloomberg News. 

Watch more:

8:15 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

House approves $2.2 trillion stimulus plan from Democrats with no bipartisan deal in sight

From CNN's Clare Foran, Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox 

The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus proposal put forward by House Democrats with no bipartisan deal in sight even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have continued talks in an effort to reach an agreement.

The measure passed largely along party lines amid GOP opposition with a final tally of 214-207.

Eighteen Democrats crossed party lines to vote against the bill, while Republicans were united in opposition.    

The legislation will give Democrats something to point to as lawmakers face pressure from constituents to deliver more aid as the pandemic continues to take a devastating toll across America. But the Democratic plan has been rejected by Republicans as too costly and is not expected to be taken up by the GOP-led Senate, and time is quickly running out to clinch a bipartisan agreement that could be signed into law ahead of the November elections. 

Pelosi, as she walked off the House floor, told a group of reporters Thursday evening ahead of the vote that there will be no agreement on any stimulus deal tonight, but talks with Mnuchin will continue.

Some context: Both the White House and House Democratic leaders are struggling with internal party divisions over how to move forward in the stimulus talks. 

For months, moderate Democrats in the House have been pushing their leadership to go back to the table and get a deal with the White House on stimulus rather than forging ahead with another Democratic-only package. 

Fourteen Democratic members voted against the original Heroes Act back in the spring, arguing it was not a plan that was going to be signed by the President. The legislation voted on Thursday has been referred to by House Democrats as an updated version of the Heroes Act. 



6:53 p.m. ET, October 1, 2020

What we know about the surge of Covid-19 cases in parts of New York

From CNN's Sheena Jones

The positivity percentage rate in 20 Covid-19 hotspots in New York has increased, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday at a daily presser.

The positivity rate has increased from 5.5% to 6.5%, the governor said.

“There are increases primarily in Brooklyn,” Cuomo said.

The governor called on local government to move from compliance to enforcement and to start fining people if they do not wear a mask.

“An infection today can become a cluster tomorrow," the governor said.

The governor reiterated that he spoke with people in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in the hotspot area and told them enforcement would be stepped up.

Cuomo also announced that Covid Alert, an app to help with Covid-19 contact tracing, will launch in New York Thursday.

The app will allow users to know if they were in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, the governor said.

Using cellphone data and Bluetooth technology, the app will tell users if they have been within six feet of someone who tested positive for Covid-19. It will also tell users if they were near someone for longer than 10 minutes, Cuomo said.

The governor said he will make the app available to any other state that wants to use it. 

The state of Pennsylvania also launched a Covid-19 tracking app in September.

In New York City: The city is now tracking 11 zip codes where Covid-19 cases continue to grow and are outpacing the citywide average by 3.4 times over the past 14 days.

The 11 neighborhoods all have a positivity rate higher than 3% and are a part of four Covid-19 clusters the city is monitoring.

The cases in the 11 neighborhoods account for 29.9% of all Covid-19 cases in New York City over the past two weeks, despite representing 8.8% of the cities population.

The city of New York is additionally monitoring seven zip codes that have a positivity rating below 3% but “are quickly becoming an area of concern."