October 12 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton and Steve George, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 13, 2020
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2:26 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Wisconsin judge declines lawsuit to overturn governor's mask mandate

From CNN's Omar Jimenez and Kay Jones

This July 30 image shows Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in Madison, Wisconsin.
This July 30 image shows Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Department of Health Services via AP

A circuit court judge has denied a lawsuit against Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to overturn a mask mandate in the state, according to a court filing obtained by CNN. 

Three people had sued to challenge Evers' authority to issue the order, declaring a public health emergency. They said in the filing that he "exceeded his statutory authority" by declaring an emergency three different times in relation to the Covid-19 health crisis. 

By state law, the governor is allowed to issue a public health emergency for up to 60 days, unless extended by the state legislature. In his ruling, Judge R. Michael Waterman said that the statute does not prohibit Evers from declaring successive states of emergency and that it allows for a declaration if it has been determined by the governor that a public health emergency exists. 

Waterman also said in his ruling that if the legislature "is unconvinced that a state of emergency does exist," then they have the power to terminate it. He wrote that the legislature has declined to end the state of emergency. 

He said that a temporary injunction against the order would affect everyone in the state and goes beyond the private interest of the plaintiffs. 

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty said in a statement posted on Twitter that they "look forward to making an appeal on this critical constitutional matter."

2:20 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Research shows early data on Covid-19 in schools better than expected

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

Emily Oster, a professor of economics at Brown University, speaks during an interview on October 12.
Emily Oster, a professor of economics at Brown University, speaks during an interview on October 12. CNN

Early data from the Covid-19 School Response Dashboard shows that schools don’t appear to be the major spreaders of Covid-19 that experts once feared. 

On reopening of K-12 schools, data taken from the last two weeks of September from more than 200,000 students attending school in-person from 47 states found an infection rate of 0.13% among students and 0.24% among staff. The dashboard is operated by Brown University and the School Superintendents Association. 

“I think that one thing is that the rates we're seeing is fairly low, lower than what we're seeing generally in the community,” Emily Oster, a professor of economics at Brown University told CNN on Monday. 

“It looks like some people get Covid elsewhere and they're at school, so it's not that there's no Covid, but rates are low compared to what people would expect,” Oster said. 

Oster said her team is looking into which mitigation factors are working, including wearing masks, social distancing, and home screening temperature checks. 

“Those are the kinds of things I think we can learn from this data which will help other schools reopen more safely,” Oster told King. 

There is currently no federal attempt to systematically map how Covid-19 is spreading across schools in the US, so Oster and her team have had to pioneer their own method of self-reporting from schools. 

“I think our team feels like there should be somebody else doing this,” she said. “I'm sort of hoping as we grow this, maybe there will be more input from the government, but I think so far we haven't seen that, which is why we're doing it.” 

1:48 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Texas sends resources to El Paso to help combat Covid-19 spike

From CNN's Kay Jones

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visits Lake Jackson, Texas on September 29.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visits Lake Jackson, Texas on September 29. Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Chronicle via AP

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced today that state resources are being sent to El Paso to help support hospitals in the area as Covid-19 cases rise.

In a news release, Abbott said that 75 medical personnel, including nurses and respiratory therapists, are being sent to El Paso, joining the 169 personnel previously sent there. 

The Department of State Health Services is also working with staffing agencies to "ensure personnel are available to be deployed to regions seeing an increase" in hospitalizations due to Covid-19. 

"It is vital that Texas communities seeing an uptick in hospitalizations have the resources they need to combat COVID-19," Abbott said in the release. "This surge in medical personnel and PPE will help support El Paso's hospitals and first responders as we mitigate the spread of this virus."

The El Paso Department of Public Health announced 424 new coronavirus cases on Monday. They have reported a total of 28,934 cases since the pandemic started.

There are 313 people hospitalized in the region with Covid-19 and 89 are in intensive care units. 

One thing to note: These numbers were released by the public health agency in El Paso, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

 

1:23 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

More than 214,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

There are at least 7,772,099 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 214,882 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

So far on Monday, Johns Hopkins has recorded 9,553 new cases and 114 reported deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

 

12:27 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Cruises now canceled through November

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

The Carnival Liberty — a Carnival Cruise Line ship — leaves Port Canaveral in Florida on March 9.
The Carnival Liberty — a Carnival Cruise Line ship — leaves Port Canaveral in Florida on March 9. Joe Burbank/The Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Carnival Cruise Line is canceling the remaining cruises for its six ships operating from PortMiami and Port Canaveral in Florida for November, the cruise line announced in a statement Monday.  

The US Centers for Disease Control and and Prevention extended its no-sail order for cruise operations until Oct. 31, making a November restart for cruises not "feasible," the statement said. 

Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, also headquartered in Miami, Florida, announced said this month they were canceling November sailing as well, the cruise lines announced respectively.   

Carnival cruises that are currently scheduled for December out of Miami and Port Canaveral will remain in place, but guests currently booked on those trips can voluntarily cancel their reservation for a refund or credit, the statement said.  

"Carnival continues to work on protocols and procedures that would allow for the resumption of cruise operations, with a gradual, phased-in approach, designating Miami and Port Canaveral as the first two homeports for embarkations," Carnival said.  

Carnival also canceled five cruises scheduled to operate from Sydney, Australia from Jan. 16 through Feb. 8, 2021, the statement said.  

Read Carnival's tweet to its customers:

12:19 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Achieve herd immunity by "protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it," WHO director-general says

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks at a briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 12.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks at a briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 12. World Health Organization

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said exposing people to the virus to achieve herd immunity is "not an option."

“Allowing a dangerous virus that we don't fully understand to run free is simply unethical,” Tedros said, adding that herd immunity is a “concept used for vaccination.”

“For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of the population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated,” Tedros said. “In other words, herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it."

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic. It is scientifically and ethically problematic," he added.

Allowing the virus to circulate unchecked "means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death,” Tedros said.

11:18 a.m. ET, October 12, 2020

There were 20% more deaths than expected in the US from March to August, research finds

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

There were 20% more deaths than expected in the United States from March 1 through August 1, with Covid-19 officially accounting for about two-thirds of them, according to new research published Monday in the medical journal JAMA. 

“Although total US death counts are remarkably consistent from year to year, US deaths increased by 20% during March–July 2020,” said the research, authored by Dr. Steven Woolf and colleagues at the Virginia Commonwealth School of Medicine. “Covid-19 was a documented cause of only 67% of these excess deaths.”

There were at least 1,336,561 deaths in the US between March 1 and August 1, the study said – a 20% increase over what would normally be expected. 

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and Michigan were the ten states with the highest per capita rate of excess deaths. The increase in absolute deaths varied from 22% in Rhode Island and Michigan to 65% in New York.

New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts – the three states with the highest death rates – accounted for 30% of US excess deaths, but had the shortest epidemics, according to the researchers.

“States that experienced acute surges in April (and reopened later) had shorter epidemics that returned to baseline in May, whereas states that reopened earlier experienced more protracted increases in excess deaths that extended into the summer,” the researchers said. 

Of the approximately 225,530 excess deaths, at least 150,541 – or 67% – of them were attributed to Covid-19.

Analysis found that there were increases in deaths related to causes other than Covid-19, including the US mortality rate for heart disease, which increased between the weeks ending March 21 and April 11, “driven by the spring surge in Covid-19 cases;" and mortality rates for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, which increased twice.

The second increase, between the weeks ending June 6 and July 25 – “coinciding with the summer surge in sunbelt states.”

“Some states had greater difficulty than others in containing community spread, causing protracted elevations in excess deaths that extended into the summer,” the authors said.

They also added that excess deaths attributed to something other than Covid-19 could be a reflection of deaths from unrecognized or undocumented cases or deaths among noninfected patients who faced disruptions caused by the pandemic.

The study did have some limitations, including that it relied on provisional data, inaccuracies in death certificates, and assumptions that were applied to the model. 

3:51 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

North Dakota has fewer than 20 staffed ICU beds available as Covid-19 cases surge, public health official says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health nurses work at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing center in Bismarck, North Dakota, on September 8.
Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health nurses work at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing center in Bismarck, North Dakota, on September 8. Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune/AP

Covid-19 cases are rising in North Dakota, and the health care system in the state may not be well-equipped to handle this surge, a public health official warns.

“Right now, the hospitals have less than 20 beds available across the state,” said Renae Moch, director of Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health, adding that it’s concerning because some hospitals are struggling to meet the demand for care.

Moch later clarified to CNN that there are fewer than 20 staffed ICU beds available in the state. According to state data, 20 staffed ICU beds were available as of 1 p.m. local time Sunday

“We have some hospitals in very rural areas that are having difficulty meeting the demand, and having to send patients to different areas across the state of North Dakota, and even had to send out of state at some point to Sioux Falls [South Dakota] and also Billings, Montana.”

Moch says it’s been a challenge to “make a difference in the number of cases” without a state mandate to enforce coronavirus safety measures. 

“We have been given the message from the state level that personal responsibility is the way to go when it comes to wearing masks and social distancing," she told CNN. "People are continuing to operate kind of as they had before Covid even was here. And that's leading to a lot of our numbers increasing.”

Public health officials are also having trouble contact tracing in this environment due to a lack of cooperation from the public, Moch says.

“So we're dealing with people maybe saying they don't have any close contacts. If they have been to a wedding or large gathering they're not giving us that information. So that gives us a real hard time to try to do the contact tracing work and contain some of the spread there.”

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Moch's last name.

11:08 a.m. ET, October 12, 2020

US coronavirus death rates are high – even compared to other countries with high death rates

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The United States has experienced high coronavirus death rates during the pandemic, even when compared to other countries with high Covid-19 mortality, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal JAMA.

Alyssa Bilinski, a PhD candidate at Harvard University, and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost of global initiatives and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, compared US coronavirus death rates through September 19 to those of 18 other countries with varying pandemic responses.

They found that after May 10, the US had more deaths per 100,000 people than other high mortality countries included in the comparison.

Bilinski and Emanuel categorized South Korea, Japan and Australia as low mortality countries, with fewer than 5 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people. If the US had comparable death rates to Australia since the beginning of the pandemic, it would have had 187,661 fewer deaths, the study shows.

Moderate mortality countries, with fewer than 5 to 25 deaths per 100,000 people, included Norway, Finland, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Switzerland and Canada. Bilinski and Emanuel note that if the US had comparable death rates to Canada since the beginning of the pandemic, it would have had 117,622 fewer deaths.

High mortality countries, with deaths greater than 25 per 100,000 people, included the United States, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and Belgium. The US was faring better than some high mortality countries, but only in the early stage of the pandemic. The comparison shows that if the US had comparable death rates to France beginning May 10, it would have had 96,763 fewer deaths.

Note on the study's findings: One limitation of the study included difference in mortality risk among countries.  Bilinski and Emanuel suggest that multiple factors may have contributed to US death rates during the pandemic, including weak public health infrastructure and inconsistent pandemic response in the US.