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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10:04 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Covid is the "most serious emergency that New Mexico has ever faced," governor says

From CNN’s Raja Razek

In this April 15, 2020, file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham puts on her face mask when not speaking during an update on the coronavirus outbreak in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In this April 15, 2020, file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham puts on her face mask when not speaking during an update on the coronavirus outbreak in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal via AP

New Mexico is reporting the highest infection levels the state has seen since the pandemic began, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news conference on Thursday.

The positivity rate is 8.1%, and hospitalizations are up 74%.

"These are the highest levels we've been at, and in a very bad way," Lujan Grisham said. The state had been doing well before this, she said -- "and now, we're in those columns where we're leading the country, if not in the number one position, nearing it for uncontrollable spread."

"This is the most serious emergency that New Mexico has ever faced,” she added.

Emergency order: The governor is extending the emergency public health order, with new mitigation efforts going into effect tomorrow.

These include limiting gatherings to five people or fewer. All establishments serving alcohol must close by 10 p.m. Visitors from high-risk states must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New Mexico.

Hospital beds running out: Hospitals in the state are also running out of ICU beds, said the state's health and human services secretary.

"Our ICU beds, as was mentioned in Albuquerque, and many of you know, are full, with University over 100% full in ICUs," said Secretary Dr. David Scrase.

"This is a serious time for the state of New Mexico," he added. "You can see the curve here, and it really is dwarfing previous curves."  
9:23 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Michigan and Arkansas report highest daily jump in new coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Jennifer Henderson

Arkansas and Michigan both reported their highest number of daily new Covid-19 cases today, according to their respective state health authorities.

Arkansas reported 1,278 new cases and 11 virus-related fatalities today. That raises the state's total to 96,524 confirmed infections and 1,645 deaths.

There are currently 587 Covid patients still in hospital, with 103 on ventilators.

Michigan reported 2,030 new cases and 32 deaths today.

However, the numbers include a backlog of cases from the day before due to a “slowdown in the reporting of electronic laboratory results,” according to a news release from the Michigan State Emergency Operations Center. 

A spokesperson from the state's Department of Health and Human Services said there's no way to calculate how many cases reported today were part of yesterday’s backlog.  

7:50 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

New model predicts 389,000 total Covid-19 deaths in the US by Feb. 1

From CNN's Maggie Fox

An influential model of the coronavirus pandemic predicts 389,087 Covid-19 fatalities in the US by Feb. 1 – 6,000 fewer deaths than the last forecast, even though the researchers behind the model say the spread of the virus is worsening. 

The model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, shows the pandemic moving into younger populations – thus the forecast of fewer deaths. The last forecast, released on Oct. 10, projected about 395,000 deaths by Feb. 1.

“Daily cases have begun to increase and transmission has intensified in the northern half of the United States,” the IHME said in its new forecast. “We expect deaths to stop declining and begin increasing in the next one to two weeks. The winter surge appears to have begun somewhat later than the surge in Europe. Daily deaths will reach over 2,000 a day in January even with many states re-imposing mandates before the end of the year.”

More data: The model projects just 314,000 deaths by Feb. 1 if everyone uses masks and more than 477,000 deaths if mask mandates are eased. Daily deaths would rise to more than 5,500 if mandates were eased but should settle at around 2,200 at current predictions.

“Expanding mask use remains the best strategy to delay and reduce the magnitude of the surge,” the IHME said.

The worsening spread will likely force many Midwestern states to reimpose restrictions, the IHME said.

The model predicts 2.4 million coronavirus deaths globally by Feb. 1.

7:42 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Remdesivir has "little or no effect on mortality" of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, WHO study finds

From CNN's John Bonifield

Ulrich Perrey/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Ulrich Perrey/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

The antiviral drug remdesivir has "little or no effect on mortality for hospitalized patients," with Covid-19, the World Health Organization said Thursday, and it doesn’t seem to help patients recover any faster, either.

WHO says it’s “conclusive evidence” about remdesivir – and the findings are disappointing.

Until now, remdesivir was the only drug that appeared to have specific effects for coronavirus. It was the only drug specifically with an Emergency Use Authorization specifically for Covid-19 from the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Results of the WHO study have not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. But WHO posted them to a pre-print server.

The WHO study reviewed remdesivir and three other repurposed drugs: hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon. None of them helped patients live any longer or get out of the hospital any sooner.

The trial was able to generate conclusive evidence on the impact the drugs had on mortality, the need for ventilation, and duration of hospital stay, according to WHO's press office.

"For each drug in the study, the effect on mortality was disappointingly unpromising," WHO statement said.

Prior to the WHO study, a large controlled study of remdesivir in the US found that it shortens recovery time by about a third in severely ill, hospitalized adults with Covid-19, but does little to help those with milder cases.

President Trump was given a five-day course of remdesivir as part of his Covid-19 treatment, one of the doctors treating him said on Oct. 3.

The maker of remdesivir, Gilead, did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment about WHO's study. 


6:20 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Chris Christie spent 7 days in intensive care: "I was wrong to not wear a mask"

From CNN's Dana Bash

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he has recovered from Covid-19 in a new statement, in which he added that he was wrong to not wear a mask at Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's announcement and during debate prep with the President.

“I believed that when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that and I and many others underwent every day. I was wrong,” Christie wrote. “I hope that my experience shows my fellow citizens that you should follow CDC guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others,” he added.

Christie also wrote: “No one should be happy to get the virus and no one should be cavalier about being infected or infecting others.”

5:45 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Georgia governor extends Covid-19 restrictions through Oct. 31

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess and John Murgatroyd

Governor Brian Kemp speaks during a press conference announcing expanded statewide COVID testing on August 10 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Governor Brian Kemp speaks during a press conference announcing expanded statewide COVID testing on August 10 in Atlanta, Georgia. Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order today, extending current Covid-19 restrictions with minimal changes.

The new executive order will take effect on Oct. 16 at 12 a.m. local time and runs through Oct. 31 at 11:59 p.m.

Georgia’s public health emergency remains in place until Nov. 9, according to the governor’s office.

5:33 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Philadelphia public schools will start some in-person learning in November

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Philadelphia public schools will begin phasing back in-person learning starting Nov. 30.

Superintendent William Hite announced Wednesday that students in grades pre-kindergarten through second grade can resume in-person learning through a hybrid model on Nov. 30. The current plan will allow for students to learn in-person two days a week.

Families of pre-K through second-grade students will be able to choose if they want to enroll their student in the hybrid model, or remain in virtual learning.

The plan further delays in-person learning for the remainder of the student body.

Ninth graders and students participating in a Career and Technical Education are not slotted to resume in-person student learning until late January or early February.

4:19 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Moderna vaccine trial could have efficacy data next month

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

In this July 27 file photo, Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y.
In this July 27 file photo, Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Hans Pennink/AP

Vaccine maker Moderna could possibly finish enrolling their 30,000-person study next week and could have its first data analysis next month, according to company spokesperson Ray Jordan.

The projections are yet another indication that a vaccine will not be on the market by Election Day.

Moderna was the first company to begin its Phase 3 clinical trial, injecting its first study subject on July 27. Half of the study participants are receiving the vaccine and half are receiving a placebo, which is a shot of saline that does nothing. Participants receive two shots spaced 28 days apart. 

The company will have its first data analysis when 53 study subjects become ill with Covid-19. At that point, a monitoring board will look at whether those study subjects received the vaccine or the placebo, and then assess if the vaccine prevented Covid-19.

“We’re still anticipating the 53 cases to potentially emerge sometime in November,” Jordan told CNN.

President Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine could be ready by Election Day. However, even if the 53 cases emerged on Nov. 1, that wouldn’t be nearly enough time for the data to be reviewed by Nov. 3. Also, vaccine experts say it’s unlikely that the vaccine would show effectiveness so early in the trial.

Also, last week the US Food and Drug Administration made clear that they wanted to see two months of follow-up data after volunteers get their second doses, which would also make it impossible for the FDA to give an emergency use authorization for a vaccine by Nov. 3.

4:17 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Ohio governor reports record number of Covid-19 cases for second day

From CNN's Claudia Dominguez

Governor Mike DeWine holds a media availability on October 15 to give an update on the status of the coronavirus response in Ohio.
Governor Mike DeWine holds a media availability on October 15 to give an update on the status of the coronavirus response in Ohio. WBNS

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine reported a record number of new coronavirus cases for a second day in a row during a news conference on Thursday.

A record 2,039 new coronavirus cases were reported on Wednesday.

“Today we are reporting another record 2,178 new coronavirus cases,” DeWine said. “This is in stark contrast to not too long ago. Sept. 20, a month ago, we had 762 cases.”

The governor also reported a sharp rise in hospitalizations.

“Yesterday we had 1,042 hospitalizations, so it basically doubled in a short period of time,” he said.

More data: Ohio currently has a 5.4% positivity rate, DeWine said.

“The percentage of tests coming back positive has doubled,” DeWine said. “We would expect to see some more cases but we have to look at is positivity, we would instead of that we’re seeing a very, very significant increase.”

On Thursday, 13 Ohio counties were added as “high incidence counties," bringing the total number of high incidence counties to 52, according to the governor. DeWine stressed that now 63% of the population is now living in high incidence, high level spread counties where there are more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents. Ten million Ohioans currently live in a community with high risk transmission, DeWine said.

“There is a red tide flowing all over the state of Ohio and virtually everyone in Ohio is living in a high incidence, high rate of spread area,” DeWine said.

The governor said there were no plans to implement another lockdown and stressed that Ohioans should follow the Covid-19 guidelines such as wearing masks, washing hands, and avoiding large gatherings.

There is currently an order in place to limit indoor gatherings, but not any gatherings at private homes.