October 12 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton and Steve George, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 13, 2020
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1:54 a.m. ET, October 12, 2020

India's Health Minister urges people to stay home during festivals as country tops 7 million cases

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan addresses a news conference in New Delhi, India, on February 4.
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan addresses a news conference in New Delhi, India, on February 4. Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times/Sipa USA

India’s Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan urged people to celebrate upcoming festivals from home as the country topped 7 million confirmed Covid-19 cases.

In a social media briefing on Sunday, Vardhan warned people to stay away from large congregations and diligently follow the guidelines issued by the government regarding precautions to be taken.

"There is no need to congregate in large numbers to prove your faith or your religion. If we do this, we may be heading for big trouble. Lord Krishna says concentrate on your goal… my goal and your goal… our goal is to finish this virus and save humanity. This is our religion. The religion of the whole world," the health minister said. 

Vardhan's comments come ahead of the Hindu festive period beginning with Navaratri, or “nine nights,” on October 17. Also known as Durja Puja, it ends with Dussehra on the tenth day. The celebrations coincide with the harvest season and culminate with Diwali, the five-day festival of lights celebrating the triumph of good over evil, on November 14.

Vardhan warned of the possibility for increased Covid-19 transmission during the approaching winter months. “These viruses are known to thrive better in the cold weather and low humidity conditions. In view of these, it would not be wrong to assume that the winter season may see increased rates of transmission of the novel coronavirus in the Indian context too,” he said. 

Vardhan also called on citizens to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nationwide awareness campaign, “Jan Andolan,” (mass movement) promoting mask-wearing and social distancing.

New cases: India reported 66,732 new infections Monday, bringing its total to 7,120,538. The Health Ministry also reported 816 new fatalities from the virus, raising the official death toll to 109,150.

1:22 a.m. ET, October 12, 2020

US records more than 44,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Alta Spells

At least 44,614 new coronavirus infections and 398 additional virus-related fatalities were recorded in the United States on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As of 1:20 a.m. ET Monday, the nationwide totals now stand at 7,762,546 Covid-19 cases, including 214,768 deaths, 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 US cases:

12:47 a.m. ET, October 12, 2020

South Korea eases social distancing measures to lowest level

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

A social distancing sign is seen on the ground to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a park in Goyang, South Korea, on October 6. The signs read: "Please watch here."
A social distancing sign is seen on the ground to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a park in Goyang, South Korea, on October 6. The signs read: "Please watch here." Ahn Young-joon/AP

South Korea is easing social distancing measures to Level 1, the lowest level, after discussions with health experts and local government officials, according to Health Minister Park Neung-hoo.

Here's what the new rules mean:

  • Restrictions on the number of people allowed in indoor and outdoor locations will be lifted but places like bars and clubs will only allow one person per 4 square meters (43 square feet) of capacity, Park said.
  • Strong restrictions will still apply to high-risk facilities and some parts of the greater Seoul area, where infections remain high, Park said.
  • A mandatory face mask rule will apply to crowded facilities, public transport, and protests. Starting November 13, a fine of 100,000 Korean won ($90) will be levied on those who violate the face mask rule.
  • Facilities that fail to follow preventative measures will be subject to closure by the government and potential fines, Park added.
  • Sports games will allow spectators at 30% of capacity and national parks will allow half capacity.
  • For the greater Seoul area, the government recommends not more than 50 people gather for indoor events, and not more than 100 outdoors. Additionally, 1 meter (3 feet) distance must be enforced between tables for restaurants and cafes.
  • Churches can hold services at 30% capacity but small gatherings or having meals together are not allowed, Park said.
  • Schools will operate at two-thirds capacity for in-person learning beginning October 19, South Korean Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said in a news release on Sunday. However, this can be adjusted depending on the condition of the region or school.

New cases: South Korea recorded 97 new coronavirus infections Sunday, 68 of which were locally transmitted, according to a news release from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) on Monday.

The total number of confirmed cases for the country is 24,703 and the death toll is 433 as one new fatality was added from the previous day, according to KDCA.

12:01 a.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Trump says he tested "totally negative" for Covid-19

From CNN's DJ Judd and Jason Hoffman

President Donald Trump addresses a rally on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 10.
President Donald Trump addresses a rally on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 10. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

US President Donald Trump claimed, without providing evidence, that he has “been tested, totally negative” for Covid-19. Trump told supporters Sunday on a “Call to Prayer” that he’s “ready to go, I feel so good.”

The latest update from the President’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, says Trump “is no longer considered a transmission risk to others” and “there is no longer evidence of actively replicating virus.” The statement, issued Saturday evening, did not say Trump had received a negative coronavirus test since first testing positive for the virus.

The White House declined to comment when asked for clarification or if there would be an update from the President’s doctor. 

Trump went on to hit China for the pandemic, telling supporters watching on Facebook, “And it was brought upon us by another country, by China, it wasn't our fault, it was the fault of another country, and we're going to make up for it in many different ways.”

The President also touted the success of an experimental treatment he took, telling supporters, “And as you probably heard, I took a certain, I call it a cure, because I think it was much more than anything else, but I call it a cure, and what we've done in terms of vaccines and cures and therapeutics and all of those things are absolutely incredible, things that could not have happened under a different administration.”
“The FDA has been fantastic, and we're trying to get the, the cure that I took, the therapeutic that I took. We're trying to get that approved right now through the FDA. I just spoke to Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA and we want to get it brought into the hospitals because I really believe, it's a transfusion, I really believe that it will solve the problems of a lot of people.”

There is no cure for the novel coronavirus.

11:39 p.m. ET, October 11, 2020

Analysis: How professional wrestling perfectly explains Donald Trump's "Superman" stunt

Analysis from CNN's Chris Cillizza

WWE chairman Vince McMahon (center) has his head shaved by Donald Trump and Bobby Lashley (right) while being held down by ''Stone Cold'' Steve Austin after losing a bet in the Battle of the Billionaires at the 2007 World Wrestling Entertainment's Wrestlemania at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, on April 1, 2007.
WWE chairman Vince McMahon (center) has his head shaved by Donald Trump and Bobby Lashley (right) while being held down by ''Stone Cold'' Steve Austin after losing a bet in the Battle of the Billionaires at the 2007 World Wrestling Entertainment's Wrestlemania at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, on April 1, 2007. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

This paragraph, from The New York Times, might at first shock you:

"In several phone calls last weekend from the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Mr. Trump shared an idea he was considering: When he left the hospital, he wanted to appear frail at first when people saw him, according to people with knowledge of the conversations. But underneath his button-down dress shirt, he would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal as a symbol of strength when he ripped open the top layer. He ultimately did not go ahead with the stunt."

The President of the United States openly considered tearing open his dress shirt to reveal a "Superman" T-shirt underneath? Because it would prove to people he was invincible after being hospitalized for Covid-19? Or something?

It seems outlandish until you consider how much of Trump's sensibility about our current cultural moment (and his entire presidency) is formed by his experience in reality TV. And, while Trump's time as the name and face of "The Apprentice" is often cited for his approach to politics, it's actually another form of reality TV where the President has dabbled that provides more insight into this "Superman" move: Professional wrestling.

Remember that Trump in the late 2000s became part of a running storyline with World Wrestling Entertainment founder Vince McMahon -- the two are personal friends -- that was cast as a "Battle of the Billionaires." The idea was that Trump was so rich that he could show up the notoriously insecure and touchy McMahon.

As the WWE website recounts:

"Red-faced that a rival would steal the spotlight from him, Mr. McMahon challenged Trump to a 'Battle of the Billionaires'; at WrestleMania 23 with the stipulation that the loser of the bout would have his head shaved bald.
"A record number of viewers tuned in to watch The Donald back Bobby Lashley to victory over Mr. McMahon's Umaga and subsequently shave the WWE Chairman's signature mane in the center of the ring."

So, yeah.

For those who don't follow pro wrestling closely -- and I am one of those people who follow it very closely -- pro wrestling is a) staged and b) functions as a mirror of who we are (and where are) as a society. And very rarely in a positive way.

Read the full analysis:

11:21 p.m. ET, October 11, 2020

Why don't you need a negative coronavirus test to leave isolation?

From CNN's Arman Azad

President Donald Trump wears a face mask as he leaves Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland heading to Marine One, on October 5.
President Donald Trump wears a face mask as he leaves Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland heading to Marine One, on October 5. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's doctor on Saturday said Trump has met criteria from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to leave isolation after falling sick with the coronavirus.

The White House didn't say Trump had actually tested negative for the virus -- but according to CDC guidelines, people don't generally need a negative test to be around people again.

Here's why:

People can test positive even if no longer infectious: Earlier in the pandemic, health officials said people should have two negative tests for coronavirus -- taken 24 hours apart -- before being around people again. That forced some people into isolation for weeks on end.

But coronavirus tests can't necessarily determine whether someone is infectious. PCR tests, for example, just look for pieces of genetic material called RNA -- and that can linger long after someone has recovered.

According to the CDC, research has shown that people aren't likely to be infectious 10 to 20 days after symptoms first began, regardless of test results.

Why might Trump not need to isolate for 20 days? People with mild to moderate Covid-19 are thought to remain infectious "no longer than 10 days after symptom onset," according to the CDC, although people with severely weakened immune systems may need to isolate for longer.

Before leaving isolation, people's symptoms should have improved and they should have gone 24 hours with no fever, the CDC says (still being on fever-reducing medication doesn't count).

For patients with severe Covid-19, the CDC says up to 20 days of isolation "may be warranted." But the agency's recommendations only require 10 days. "Consider consultation with infection control experts," the CDC's recommendations say.

Read the full story:

11:37 p.m. ET, October 11, 2020

Twitter flags Trump's false claim about his Covid-19 immunity. Facebook, however, does nothing

From CNN's Jason Hoffman and Jordan Valinsky

President Donald Trump removes his face mask before speaking to supporters at the White House on October 10.
President Donald Trump removes his face mask before speaking to supporters at the White House on October 10. Alex Brandon/AP

Twitter just added a warning label to a tweet from President Donald Trump that claimed, without evidence, he is immune to coronavirus after his physician cleared him to resume public activities.

"A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday. That means I can't get it (immune), and can't give it. Very nice to know!!!" Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday.

He also claimed immunity in an interview on Fox News where he said he believes he will be immune for "maybe a long time, maybe a short time, could be a lifetime."

There is no evidence that people are immune to coronavirus if they have been infected once, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC specifically cautions people not to assume they are immune.

Twitter's warning label says the tweet "violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19."

"We placed a public interest notice on [President Trump's] Tweet for violating our Covid-19 Misleading Information Policy by making misleading health claims about Covid-19," a Twitter spokesperson said. "As is standard with this public interest notice, engagements with the Tweet will be significantly limited."

Trump posted the same message on his Facebook account, but the platform hasn't added a warning label despite the fact that it violates its rules. The post has been up for four hours and shared more than 24,000 times on Facebook.

CNN Business has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Read the full story:

11:37 p.m. ET, October 11, 2020

CNN exclusive: Fauci says he was taken out of context in new Trump campaign ad touting coronavirus response

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, prepares to testify during a hearing of US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in Washington, DC, on September 23.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, prepares to testify during a hearing of US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in Washington, DC, on September 23. Graeme Jennings/Pool/Xinhua/Sipa USA

Dr. Anthony Fauci did not consent to being featured in a new advertisement from the Trump campaign touting President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the nation's leading infectious disease expert told CNN his words were taken out of context.

"In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials," Fauci said in a statement provided exclusively to CNN when asked if he agreed to be featured in the ad.

The Trump campaign released the new ad last week after the President was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following treatment for Covid-19. The 30-second ad, which is airing in Michigan, touts Trump's personal experience with the virus and uses a quote from Fauci in an attempt to make it appear as if he is praising Trump's response.

"President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America," the ad's narrator says. "Together we rose to meet the challenge, protecting our seniors, getting them life-saving drugs in record time, sparing no expense."

The ad then flashes to an interview with Fauci in which he says, "I can't imagine that anybody could be doing more."

Though no date is provided in the ad, Fauci's quote is from an interview with Fox News in March. During that interview, Fauci praised the White House coronavirus task force's round-the-clock effort to respond to the pandemic, which he says included numerous White House meetings and late-night phone calls.

Read the full story:

11:38 p.m. ET, October 11, 2020

White House economic adviser says Mnuchin "may" go above $2.2 trillion in stimulus offer

From CNN's Alison Main

Steven Mnuchin, Secretary, Department of the Treasury during the Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing examining the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress in Washington, DC,  on September 24.
Steven Mnuchin, Secretary, Department of the Treasury during the Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing examining the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress in Washington, DC, on September 24. Toni L. Sandys/Pool/Getty Images

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that he doesn't think the prospect on another round of coronavirus relief is dead "at all" and that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "may" offer a proposal priced higher than Speaker Nancy Pelosi's most recent offer of $2.2 trillion.

"Secretary Mnuchin is up to 1.8 trillion. So the bid and the offer is narrowing somewhat between the two sides. President Trump actually has always said — I mean, I've heard him say it in the oval — as far as the key elements are concerned, the checks, the unemployment assistance, the small business assistance, we've got to help airlines out, he would go further. He's always said that," Kudlow said.

Kudlow said he spoke with Mnuchin Saturday night on the matter. He noted that the Republican asked for targeted relief measures, including more federal unemployment assistance and another round of PPP loans and direct stimulus checks to individuals.

"They have bipartisan support. We could do it as standalone bills or an omnibus bill or whatever. But I do not understand the intransigence from my Democratic friends," Kudlow said, casting the blame on Democrats, even though many Senate Republicans have been resistant to a deal with a high price tag.

More context: On Saturday, Senate Republicans blasted a $1.8 trillion offer from the White House on a call with Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. While the sentiment was that talks with Pelosi should continue, it was clear that the White House plan had virtually no chance of passing the Senate, per multiple sources.

Asked about the Republican pushback, Kudlow demurred, saying "I don't know who we have lost" and noting the previous Republican efforts on a pared-down bill.

"Let's see what happens. I'm not negotiating today," Kudlow said.

This also comes after President Donald Trump did an about-face on the negotiations this week, first, unilaterally putting a stop to the talks ahead of the election and then signing off on a $1.8 trillion proposal by Friday.

Kudlow reiterated his belief that economic recovery is not dependent on the passage of another stimulus bill.