October 6 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Nick Thompson, Amy Woodyatt, Mike Hayes, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 7, 2020
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11:27 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

Ex-pandemic preparedness chief resigns from federal government 

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond and Paul LeBlanc

The ousted director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine has now resigned from his post at the National Institutes of Health, charging that the Trump administration "ignores scientific expertise, overrules public health guidance and disrespects career scientists."

Rick Bright filed an extensive whistleblower complaint this spring, alleging that his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and that his caution at hydroxychloroquine led to his removal.

He is now exiting the federal government altogether after being "sidelined" at NIH, his attorneys said in a pointed statement released on Tuesday.

"Although not allowed at NIH to utilize his expertise in vaccines or therapeutics, Dr. Bright developed a plan to implement a robust national testing infrastructure, which emphasized the critical need to provide screening tests for asymptomatic individuals and to provide services to underserved populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19," Bright's attorneys, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, said in a statement.

Bright's exit caps a tumultuous few months since he was ousted from his role leading the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and reassigned to a narrower role at NIH.

Read the full story:

11:00 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

White House email says "all contact tracing" is complete

From CNN's Vivian Salama

The White House told staff in an email on Tuesday that it had completed "all contact tracing" for positive Covid-19 cases identified at the White House.

The email also urged anyone who hasn't been contacted and suspects they have had contact with someone infected to reach out to the White House Medical Office.

The email, reviewed by CNN, was sent to staff working across the White House complex, following revelations of new infections that include President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, as well as many top White House advisers.

The West Wing had been reluctant to enforce any such regulations among staff, particularly with regard to masks, for fear of undermining the President's efforts to show that his administration has the pandemic under control.

But after several of the President's top aides, including Hope Hickspress secretary Kayleigh McEnany and senior adviser Stephen Miller, tested positive in recent days, as well as other midlevel staffers, the White House has been forced to take rushed steps to prevent the spread from getting even worse.

Read more here:

10:28 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

The US could see as many as 400,000 Covid-19 deaths by this winter, Fauci predicts

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

The United States could see as many as 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus this winter if Americans don't follow public health mitigation guidelines, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Tuesday.

Fauci had warned in the spring that if the US did not follow the guidance, 200,000 Americans could die from the deadly virus. “And sadly, we have 210,000 deaths now,” he said during a discussion with American University students.

“The models tell us that if we do not do the kinds of things that we're talking about in the cold of the fall and the winter, we could have from 300,000 to 400,000 deaths. That would be just so tragic, if that happens.”

Fauci encouraged everyone to take simple steps such as wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing and doing as much outside instead of inside as possible. 

10:07 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

Fauci warns of more coronavirus infections and deaths as fall turns to winter

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

The United States’ failure to achieve a low baseline level of coronavirus infections over the summer is going to lead to more infections and deaths this fall and winter, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday.

“We’re stuck at around 40,000 cases a day,” Fauci told students at American University.

He added that there are parts of the country that are doing well in terms of test positivity rates -- but there are also certain areas where "you have the uptick in test positivity, which is a very good predictor of a surge of cases," he said.

“So instead of going into the fall and the winter on a sharp decline down to a low baseline, we're actually going into the fall and the winter with some parts of the country ticking up, which will ultimately lead to not only more infections, but more hospitalizations and then community spread, which will ultimately lead to morbidity and mortality,” Fauci said.

We can't relax precautions: “We really need to double down with the fundamental public health practices that we know work: universal use of masks, distancing, avoiding crowds, doing things outdoors as much as we possibly can, as opposed to indoors, including restaurants and things like that, but also washing hands," he said.

Fauci called the circumstances a “challenge,” but said if people adhere to public health guidelines, he’s hopeful the tide may turn. He also said he’s hopeful that a new vaccine or therapies may be able to help, too. 

9:24 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

White House Covid-19 outbreak "could have been prevented," Fauci says 

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

The White House coronavirus outbreak could have been prevented and is proof the pandemic is not a hoax, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday.

“Take a look at what happened this week at the White House. That is a reality right there. And every day that goes by more people are popping up that are infected,” Fauci said in a conversation with students and families at American University.

“It's not a hoax. It's an unfortunate situation, when you see something like that, because that could have been prevented.”

When asked by a student how to handle family members and others who do not believe the pandemic is real, Fauci suggested appealing to rationality and statistics.

“Right now we have 210,000 people who have died and 7.3 million people (who) have been infected. Globally, there are over 1 million people who have died. That is not a hoax,” Fauci said.

"You can’t say that people all over the world and American allies are all lying and calling it a hoax."

“It’s reality.”

7:09 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

All US hospitals must now report flu numbers to federal government, HHS says

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

A medical worker pushes a stretcher through a hallway at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on September 22, in New York.
A medical worker pushes a stretcher through a hallway at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on September 22, in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

US hospitals must start reporting flu data to the federal government or face losing federal funding, Health and Human Services Department officials said Tuesday.

Hospitals currently report positive and suspected cases of Covid-19, fatalities and admissions on a daily and weekly basis and will now be required to report the same numbers for influenza, HHS said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently tracks flu hospitalizations in just 14 states and uses modeling methodology to estimate how many people are infected, hospitalized and killed by influenza across the country every flu season.

But now the US is facing the threat of two deadly respiratory viruses – flu and coronavirus – circulating at the same time. 

Collecting more in depth information on flu from hospitals will help officials track it better, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. “(The) new data will give us a fuller picture of what is happening hospital-to-hospital regarding influenza in the hospital, in the hospital regardless, and may help us produce more accurate estimates of the burden of influenza each season,” Redfield told reporters.

The CDC is not sure what’s going to happen this flu season, Redfield said. “However, CDC is preparing for there to be a COVID-19 and seasonal influenza at the same time," he said.

More on this: If hospitals don’t provide complete and accurate information on Covid-19 and flu, they will face “termination” of their Medicare and Medicaid services, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. 

Verma said the 6,000 hospitals in the system will have “ample opportunity to come into compliance,” beginning Wednesday, when all facilities will receive an initial notice as to whether they’re meeting current reporting requirements.

Hospitals will be required to report daily and weekly Covid-19 and influenza admissions, confirmed and suspected cases, fatalities and data on personal protective equipment.

Daily and weekly reporting on Covid-19 cases has improved, said White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. “We've gone from 86% to 98% of all hospitals reporting at least weekly, and we've gone from 61% to 86% of hospitals reporting daily,” Birx said.

“We track test positivity cases, but also daily hospital admission data, as well as fatalities from around the United States down to the level of communities and counties to really ensure that we’re triangulating all data to understand where this epidemic is, how it's moving through different populations and ensuring that we're meeting the needs of specific hospitals and communities as well as working from the same data and information,” she said.

Now we want to collect flu information from hospitals “to have a comprehensive understanding of influenza in the community,” Birx said.

Receiving timely and complete information is really crucial in battling the coronavirus epidemic, she said.


7:08 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

Restaurants warn of more closures without stimulus

From CNN's Cristina Alesci

Jocelyn Campos, 28, manager of Big Berthas Pizza, makes pizza at her family's restaurant near Disneyland on Wednesday, September 30, in Anaheim, California.
Jocelyn Campos, 28, manager of Big Berthas Pizza, makes pizza at her family's restaurant near Disneyland on Wednesday, September 30, in Anaheim, California. Allen J. Schaben /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The restaurant industry warns that delaying stimulus – even by several weeks— will cause even more independent restaurants to fail.

"If Congress and the President walk away from negotiations, even more of our neighborhood restaurants will go out of business,” the Independent Restaurant Coalition said in a statement Tuesday in response to President Trump's decision to halt stimulus talks.

“We cannot afford five or six more weeks of decreased revenue, more debt, and uncertainty about colder weather,” wrote the group, noting that earlier on Tuesday Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell had underscored the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on industries with high in-person contact, like restaurants and bars.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition represents 500,000 independent restaurants in the United States, employing more than 11 million restaurant workers.

6:29 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

US Chamber of Commerce calls delay of stimulus talks "disappointing"

From CNN's Matt Egan

The US Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday called President Trump’s decision to stop negotiating with congressional leaders on a new stimulus package until after the November election "disappointing."

“Washington’s failure to enact additional COVID relief will be felt on Main Streets and at kitchen tables across the United States," said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer, in a statement. "It is especially disappointing given that less than a month ago a bipartisan group of Members of Congress outlined a reasonable compromise that would have provided the economy with the support it needs while helping our nation recover from this pandemic. Republican and Democratic leaders should follow their example.”
5:25 p.m. ET, October 6, 2020

NIH director says he is "optimistic" a coronavirus vaccine will be proven safe and effective by 2021

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), holds up a model of the coronavirus during a US Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Operation Warp Speed on July 2 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), holds up a model of the coronavirus during a US Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Operation Warp Speed on July 2 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said he's optimistic that the US will have a vaccine by the end of this year or the beginning of 2021.

“I'm one of those who's optimistic we will have one or more vaccines that turn out to be safe and effective by sometime around the end of this year, maybe a little bit into January,” he said.

The politicization of the vaccine development process has been a distraction, one that has polarized many people, Collins noted during a Johns Hopkins University and University of Washington virtual symposium on vaccine development.

“Putting all that aside and dealing with the fact that we have this huge problem of vaccine hesitancy that needs to be dealt with, I am still guardedly optimistic that come 2021, we're going to be on a path – over many months, let's not talk about this being a quick solution, but on a path – where we can eventually put Covid-19 in the rear view mirror, although we will be changed by it, and I think he will be around us globally for quite a long time to come,” said Collins.