October 15 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Angela Dewan, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020
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11:37 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Fauci slams idea of herd immunity: Letting "things rip" without protection is "ridiculous"

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci is pictured testifying during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is pictured testifying during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23. Graeme Jennings/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reacted to the idea of focused protection – put forward in the Great Barrington Declaration – saying the idea is nonsense, and the idea of letting the virus go without any protection measures is “ridiculous.”

Fauci told “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos that the declaration has a couple of things in it that he thinks are fooling people, “because it says things that are like apple pie and motherhood.”

He said that hidden in the declaration is the implication that if you let people get infected and worry about essentially protecting the vulnerable, “There’s about 30% of the population has underlying conditions that make them more susceptible to getting the adverse events and outcomes of serious disease with Covid-19.”

“If you just let things rip and let the infection go – no masks, crowd – it doesn’t make any difference. That, quite frankly, George, is ridiculous,” he said. “Because what that will do is that there will be so many people in the community that you can’t shelter, that you can’t protect, who are going to get sick and get serious consequences.”

Fauci said the idea that “we have the power to protect the vulnerable is total nonsense,” and that has been shown to not be the case by history. Talking to anyone who has any infectious disease or epidemiology experience will say that it’s risky and will lead to many more infections of vulnerable people which will lead to hospitalizations and deaths, he said.

“So, I think that we just got to look that square in the eye and say it’s nonsense,” he said.


9:05 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

US jobless claims head higher: 898,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Paper covers the windows of a closed storefront on Madison Avenue in New York, on September 26.
Paper covers the windows of a closed storefront on Madison Avenue in New York, on September 26. Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg/Getty Images

For yet another week hundreds of thousands of American workers filed for unemployment benefits.

Americans filed another 898,000 first-time jobless claims last week on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to the Department of Labor.

That's up 53,000 from the prior week.

Weekly claims have fallen a long way since peaking at 6.9 million in late March. But the improvements have slowed to a snail's pace in recent weeks, and went into reverse last week. That means it could take a long time to get back to the pre-pandemic level of around 200,000 claims per week.

On top of regular jobless claims, 372,891 Americans filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program designed in response to the pandemic to help those not usually eligible for unemployment benefits. That was down 91,000 claims from the prior week.

Adding those together, total first-time claims stood at about 1.3 million last week.

Continued jobless claims, which count workers who have filed for benefits for more than two weeks in a row, stood at 10 million. That's down around 1.2 million from the prior week.

That sounds like good news, but economists worry continued claims might be declining because people have maxed out their benefit allowance. States provide up to 26 weeks of aid before workers move on to other government programs, such as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

The latest from CNN Business:  

8:36 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

No Ronaldo? No problem. Portugal celebrates win against Sweden without their star striker

From CNN's George Ramsay and Harry Clarke-Ezzidio

Cristiano Ronaldo watched the Nations League in mandatory isolation at home as Portugal cruised past Sweden 3-0 Wednesday.

The Juventus forward returned to Turin on Wednesday via a private air ambulance to continue his isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 the day before.

Ronaldo posted a picture of himself supporting from home wearing his international kit as he watched his teammates' resounding win.

Portugal’s captain and all-time leading goalscorer was not missed, as goals from Bernardo Silva and a brace for Diogo Jota sealed all three points for the defending Nations League champions. The result puts them on top of group A3, level on points with France.

The Portuguese Football Federation, which confirmed Ronaldo's positive test, said he was doing "well" and was "without symptoms."

Ronaldo’s club side Juventus announced that the whole of their squad has gone into isolation after American midfielder Weston McKennie tested positive on Wednesday as well, with results from further tests on the rest of the team still to be announced.

Ronaldo would need to return a negative test by October 21 in order to be eligible to play against Barcelona -- and old rival Lionel Messi -- in the Champions League on October 28, according to UEAF rules.

Read the full story here.

8:33 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Worker at historic NYC hotel says rooms are empty and jobs are scarce 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

New York City’s landmark Roosevelt Hotel will close at the end of the year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Johanna Ortiz, a single mom of two who has worked at the hotel for 20 years, said that it’s a “heartbreaking” situation.

“A lot of us in the hospitality industry are going to have to reinvent ourselves. It's going to be really hard. A lot of hotels are closing; jobs are not available right now. The rooms are empty. It's just really sad to see. In the 20 years, I have never seen the hospitality industry this heartbreaking,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

She said there’s only about 25 employees working at the hotel per day right now. Pre-Covid, there were hundreds working every day, she said. 

Because she’s a union member, she will be getting severance pay and will be ensured health coverage. She said she’ll be able to get an extension, so she’ll be working until the end of the year. 

“At the Roosevelt, we started off as coworkers, we became friends and ended up as family. … It’s very heartbreaking,” she said. 

Watch more:

Some background: Since 1924, the Roosevelt Hotel has been a witness to history. It was the election headquarters for Gov. Thomas Dewey when he incorrectly announced he defeated Harry Truman in the 1948 presidential election. It has served as the backdrop for movies such as "The Irishman" and it helped start a New Year's Eve tradition.

8:41 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

French authorities raid officials' homes in probe into coronavirus management

From CNN's Martin Goillandeau in London, Pierre Bairin and Gaelle Fournier in Paris

Authorities have carried out raids of the homes and offices of several senior French government officials as part of an investigation into the management of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, a spokesperson for senior public prosecutor Francois Molins told CNN.

Among them were French Health Minister Olivier Véran; the director of the country’s national health agency, Jerome Salomon; and former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran is pictured leaving a weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on October 14.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran is pictured leaving a weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on October 14. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

A spokesperson for Philippe confirmed to CNN that his home, as well as the city hall of Le Havre, where he is the mayor, had been searched. They added that “everything took place in a very courteous manner, with the full cooperation of the mayor.”

The raids followed 99 complaints from several non-profits and a collective of doctors to the Court of Justice of the Republic, which tries cases of misconduct committed by government officials.

Molins opened a judicial investigation on July 7 based on nine of those complaints for “failure to combat a disaster,” a charge that could be punished by two years' imprisonment and a 30,000-euro ($35,102) fine.

The Ministry of Health confirmed the searches into Veran’s and Salomon’s homes and offices, adding that the operation was “conducted with no difficulties."

8:03 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

About 80% of European countries are seeing growth in Covid-19 cases, WHO official says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The World Health Organization's Maria Van Kerkhove addressed the surge in coronavirus cases in Europe while speaking on CNN's "New Day" this morning.

“About 80% of countries across the European regions are seeing a growth right now. But the thing that we need to really understand…is many of the countries have brought these pandemics, these outbreaks, under control and they can do it again,” she said.

She advocated for unity in fighting the virus and for people to adhere to guidelines in hotspot areas.

 “We are in a completely different situation than we were in a few months ago. We know so much more about this virus, how to control the virus. We need to stay focused, we need to have unity across the region, across the world, in fact, to be able to apply the tools that we have at hand where we can bring these outbreaks under control,” she said. 

8:01 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

WHO epidemiologist says herd immunity strategy is "dangerous"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The World Health Organization’s Maria Van Kerkhove underscored that herd immunity is a “dangerous” approach in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.  

“Herd immunity, as an approach, by letting the virus circulate, is dangerous. It leads to unnecessary cases and it leads to unnecessary deaths,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“This is not a strategy for this virus,” Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist who is the coronavirus technical lead at the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, added.

Some background: White House senior administration officials discussed a controversial declaration written by scientists that advocates for herd immunity in a call with reporters on Monday.

Watch more:

7:49 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

London and Paris bring in strict rules as cases surge across Europe

From CNN's Emma Reynolds, Eva Tapiero and Amy Cassidy

Pedestrians pass signage displaying the current coronavirus alert level in London, on Thursday, October 15.
Pedestrians pass signage displaying the current coronavirus alert level in London, on Thursday, October 15. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Two of Europe's biggest capitals are in trouble as Paris imposed overnight curfews and London considered banning people from meeting indoors to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The French capital and the cities of Aix-Marseille, Grenoble, Montpellier, Toulouse, Saint Etienne, Lille, Rouen and Lyon will face a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew starting at midnight on Friday, President Emmanuel Macron announced.

The aim is to reduce private contacts, which are the most dangerous contacts," Macron said Wednesday.

Violating the nighttime curfew will carry a fine of 135 euros (about $160) for a first offense, and 1500 euros ($1,760) if the offense is repeated.

France reported 22,591 new cases and 95 deaths on Wednesday, bringing its total to 779,063 cases and 33,037 deaths.

London will move to the Tier 2 "high alert" level of coronavirus restrictions on Saturday, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced in a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday.

It means Londoners will be banned from mixing with other households indoors in any setting, including in pubs and restaurants. They should also avoid using public transport where possible.

Read the full story here.

6:11 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Painful winter ahead in London as new restrictions expected

From CNN's Nada Bashir and Angela Dewan

London mayor Sadiq Khan arrives at City Hall in London, after urging ministers to extend regional coronavirus restrictions over the capital, on September 21.
London mayor Sadiq Khan arrives at City Hall in London, after urging ministers to extend regional coronavirus restrictions over the capital, on September 21. Stefan Rousseau/PA Images/Getty Images

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Thursday that he expected the UK government to impose new restrictions in the British capital and warned that millions of residents in the British capital "we've got a difficult winter ahead."

Khan said he expected the UK government to move London up a level in its three-tier restrictions system from "Medium" to the "High," the second tier, which means people from different households can no longer meet indoors — including homes, pubs and restaurants.

Groups of six from different households can still meet outdoors, and pubs and restuarnats will be allowed to remain open until 10 p.m., as is currently the case.

"This is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners," Khan said in a televised statement Thursday.

“I must warn Londoners that we’ve got a difficult winter ahead. But just as we’ve always done through our city’s great history, I know that we’ll get through this dark time by pulling together.”

Khan criticized the UK government's test, track and trace program as a failure.

"I believe we also need action on a national scale, just as the government’s own scientific advisers have recommended. That is why I will continue to call for a short national circuit breaker." 

The British government ignored the advice of a scientific advisory team to implement a two-week lockdown, known as a circuit breaker, to slow the spread of the virus and prevent thousands of deaths.