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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3:52 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

US reports nearly 60,000 new Covid-19 cases

A man gets swabbed by a health worker at the state run free Covid-19 testing site in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 13.
A man gets swabbed by a health worker at the state run free Covid-19 testing site in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 13. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty Images

At least 59,494 new coronavirus cases and 985 new virus-related deaths were recorded in the United States on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The nationwide totals now stand at 7,916,100 cases, including at least 216,872 deaths.

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

Track cases here:

1:47 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Lockdown or a drip feed of Covid restrictions? One path is better for the economy

From CNN's Zamira Rahim, Pierre Bairin and Gaëlle Fournier

Governments across Europe are choosing between two vastly different strategies as a second wave of Covid-19 arrives in force.

Most are imposing limited local restrictions and keeping their economies open. But in the UK and Ireland, scientific advisers have pushed for second national lockdowns, despite fears of an economic shock.

The crisis, which hit Europe for the first time in early spring, is back -- but this time around, many people feel that locking down society is too high a price to pay.

Yet most medical and economic experts CNN spoke to agree that, in the long run, a short lockdown is better than a constant battle to contain the pandemic.

Read the full story:

1:13 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

South Korean city to test all employees and patients at hospital linked to new Covid-19 cluster

From CNN's Gawon Bae and Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

All employees and patients at a nursing hospital in the South Korean city of Busan will be tested for Covid-19 after an outbreak was reported at the facility, the city’s Acting Mayor Byeon Sung-wan said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

The hospital in the southern port city reported 53 Covid-19 cases linked to its facility Wednesday, 11 of whom are employees and the rest patients, Byeon said.

Gatherings at restaurants near the hospital will also be barred for the next two weeks.

New cases: Another 110 Covid-19 infections have been identified nationwide, 95 of which were locally transmitted, according to South Korean authorities on Thursday.

Nearly 25,000 cases have been confirmed in South Korea since the pandemic began. At least 439 fatalities have now been reported, as one new death was added from the previous day, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

12:32 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Opinion: White House's new Covid-19 strategy is madness

Opinion from Jeffrey Sachs

Editor's note: Jeffrey D. Sachs is a professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. The opinions expressed here are his own.

As if Donald Trump's irresponsibility was not already a national tragedy, the White House seems now to favor a controversial approach to Covid-19 that threatens to bring nothing less than mass suffering.

On Tuesday, senior administration officials said that they were receptive to pursuing "herd immunity," an approach touted by a group of scientists who have put out what they call the "Great Barrington Declaration."

What they're proposing: The idea is that the federal government should let the pandemic run its course until most of the population is infected and has ostensibly developed antibodies to ward off future infections. Typical estimates hold that 70% or more of the population would thereby become infected.

According to this idea, vulnerable groups would be targeted for "focused protection," for example, introducing extra precautions such as frequent Covid-19 testing to avoid infections of the elderly living in nursing homes. The rest of the population "should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal," according to the declaration.

What experts say: This approach runs strongly against the overwhelming consensus of public health specialists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The new Covid-19 approach would undoubtedly add massively to the suffering in the US in a very short period of time.

The fallacy: The idea that we should not try to control infections other than of vulnerable groups is based on a complete misunderstanding of the real choices facing the US -- or facing any country for that matter.

The core mistake is the belief that the only alternative to an economic shutdown is to let the virus spread widely in the population. Instead, a set of basic public health measures is enough, as many other countries have shown, to control the spread of the virus. 

Read the full op-ed:

12:02 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Missouri reports daily high number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN's Raja Razek

Missouri reported 1,413 hospitalizations due to Covid-19 on Tuesday -- the highest daily count since the pandemic began, as the US grapples with a new surge of the virus.

The state's seven-day average for hospitalization is now over 1,356, according to the state's health department Covid-19 dashboard.

Missouri's hospitalization numbers include both suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Missouri has recorded a total of 148,679 Covid-19 cases, with 2,420 coronavirus related deaths in the state. 

Nationwide surge: Across the country, more than 30 states have reported more Covid-19 cases this past week than they reported the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

"We went down to the lowest point lately in early September, around 30,000-35,000 new cases a day. Now we're back up to (about) 50,000 new cases a day. And it's going to continue to rise," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said Tuesday.

"This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about. And now it's happening. And it's happening especially in the northern Midwest, and the Northern states are getting hit very hard -- Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas. But it's going to be nationally soon enough."
9:42 p.m. ET, October 14, 2020

French President announces curfew for Paris and other cities

From CNN’s Eva Tapiero in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a news conference on September 30, in Riga, Latvia.
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a news conference on September 30, in Riga, Latvia. Gints Ivuskans/AFP/Getty Images

Paris and other French cities will be subject to a nighttime curfew starting Saturday to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, French President Emmanuel Macron announced Wednesday. 

The 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will also apply to Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Grenoble, Montpellier, Toulouse, Saint Etienne, Lille and Lyon, he said. 

It takes effect starting at midnight Friday night into Saturday.

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

Violating the nighttime curfew will carry a fine of 135 euros (about $160) for a first offense, and 1,500 euros ($1,760) if the offense is repeated, he said.

9:19 p.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Italy records its highest daily coronavirus case increase since the pandemic began

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood in London and Nicola Ruotolo in Rome

A woman undergoes a swab test for Covid-19 at a drive-through testing site of the Santa Maria della Pieta hospital in Rome on October 12.
A woman undergoes a swab test for Covid-19 at a drive-through testing site of the Santa Maria della Pieta hospital in Rome on October 12. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Italy on Wednesday recorded its highest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic, the latest figures from the country's Ministry of Health show. 

Italian health authorities said there had been 7,332 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to at least 372,799.

The number exceeds the previous daily high set during the first wave of the pandemic on March 21, when at least 6,557 cases were recorded over a 24-hour period. 

Over the past day, 43 people have died of coronavirus, bringing Italy’s total number of deaths to at least 36,289.

The number of patients in intensive care has increased by 25.

Some background: Italy was one of the worst-hit countries in Europe during the first wave of the pandemic and the country is battling to contain another outbreak.

Additional restrictions were announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Health Minister Roberto Speranza making masks mandatory indoors except when at home and urging people to not gather in groups of more than six at home. 

9:41 p.m. ET, October 14, 2020

"Most transmission is actually still happening in households," WHO says

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

Technical lead head Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove attends a newsconference organized by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents amid the coronavirus outbreak on July 3 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
Technical lead head Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove attends a newsconference organized by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents amid the coronavirus outbreak on July 3 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Wednesday underscored that most transmission of Covid-19 is still happening in households.

Speaking during a social media Q&A, Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO infectious disease epidemiologist, said if someone tests positive for Covid-19, that they should be cared for in a medical facility -- but she said she understands that cannot always happen.

“We realize that that is not possible globally, with so many cases that we are seeing, but it is important that if you are in a high risk group -- if you are over 60, if you have any underlying conditions -- that you are cared for in a medical facility,” she said. “The reason for that is because you are at a higher risk of developing severe disease and of death.”

If an infected person is cared for at home, “There's the possibility that the virus will spread within the household,” she said.

“Most transmission is actually still happening in households,” Van Kerkhove said. “This we knew from the beginning, from the outbreaks that were detected in China. And one of the most important things that they did in China was recognizing this, and then isolating individuals who are infected outside of the home.”
8:42 p.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Experts say a herd immunity strategy to fight the pandemic can be dangerous

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

After months of effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, herd immunity has emerged as a controversial topic. 

During a call with reporters on Monday, White House senior administration officials discussed a controversial declaration written by some scientists that advocates for ending lockdowns, building immunity and pushing for those who are not vulnerable to Covid-19 to resume normal life.

The Great Barrington Declaration aligns "very strongly with what the President has said for months -- that is strongly protect the high-risk elderly and vulnerable and open schools and restore society to function," a senior administration official said during the call.

Yet many experts warn that the idea to allow the novel coronavirus to circulate freely -- also known as a "herd immunity" approach -- is dangerous.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has even called it "unethical."

"Allowing a dangerous virus that we don't fully understand to run free is simply unethical," Tedros said during a briefing on Monday. "It's not an option."

Tedros explained that herd immunity is a "concept used for vaccination," not pandemic control.

"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," Tedros said. "Letting the virus circulate unchecked, therefore, means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death."

Read the full story: