October 19 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020
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7:42 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Trump's attacks on Fauci won't help the country fight Covid-19, public health experts say

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Monday, October 19 in Phoenix, Arizona.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Monday, October 19 in Phoenix, Arizona. Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump’s attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, won’t help the United States battle the coronavirus pandemic, said Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University School of Public Health.

It’s “disturbing and “upsetting” to hear the President say such things, Jha told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“We’re in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century and Dr. Fauci is America's most respected infectious disease expert for good reason,” Jha said. 

“He is the best there is and to attack him personally is very unfortunate and it is not going to help the country out,” Jha added. 

“I mean, right now we're heading into a difficult fall and winter. Attacking your best experts is not what you want to be doing if you're President of the United States.”

It could also have dire health consequences, Jha said.

“Dr. Fauci isn't just somebody that the public respects. All of us in the medical field who study these things look up to him as the best there is,” Jha noted.

“And so undermining him and undermining his message really makes it so much harder to control this virus, so much harder to control this pandemic. I think the President's doing a great disservice to Dr. Fauci, but really to the country.”

Trump called Fauci a “disaster” and referred to him and other health experts as “idiots” in a campaign phone call on Monday.

Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on "Full Circle" if political leaders aren't working with scientists to pull the nation together in their coronavirus response, they're likely going to fail.

"The only way response works is when you have a unity of message between the political leaders and the science leaders because the science leaders are never going to be asking people to do things that are easy. They're asking people to change their lifestyle, to take action, to reduce the spread of an infectious agent and that requires sacrifice and when you don't have your political leaders pulling the nation together and making it a national effort, you're going to fail," he said.

"Infectious agents don't care what political party you support. They don't care where you live. They will infect everybody and anybody," he said.

Watch:

6:46 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Everyone who wants one should be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine by March or early April, Azar says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Milken Institute
Milken Institute

The race to get a Covid-19 vaccine has involved some of the largest vaccine clinical trials ever orchestrated, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday.

“Obviously, we’re all hoping that we’ll see data as soon as possible,” Azar said at a conference sponsored by the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan think tank founded by ex-banker Michael Milken.

“It is an amazing achievement for the President, for Operation Warp Speed, for our biopharmaceutical industry in the United States that we even have this in range,” Azar said.

Under Operation Warp Speed, the US is producing millions of vaccines currently. All six vaccine candidates that the US has invested in or contracted to buy are being manufactured at commercial scale right now, Azar said. He said he believes that there will be enough vaccines by the end of December to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations in the US. By the end of January, he believes there will be enough to vaccinate all seniors and health care workers and first responders.

“By the end of March, early April, we believe we will have enough vaccine produced to vaccinate anybody in the United States who wanted to get vaccinated,” Azar said.

The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccine trials are paused in the US, as is Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody trial.

“The American people should feel very reassured, actually, by these developments. That shows we’re putting patients at the center,” Azar said. “It shows that we’re playing by the book. It shows that the FDA is in the driver’s seat.”

Vaccine approvals will be determined by the career leadership at the FDA, Azar said.

6:42 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Nearly 200 band members quarantined after students test positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Ocean Springs High School in Ocean Springs Mississippi, on October 18.
Ocean Springs High School in Ocean Springs Mississippi, on October 18. WLOX

Nearly 200 band students in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, are in quarantine after fellow band members tested positive for Covid-19, according to the district's superintendent.

Ocean Springs School District Superintendent Dr. Bonita Coleman said 193 band students at Ocean Springs High School were quarantining as a precautionary measure after "three or more" band members tested positive. 

“We are meticulously following the MS Dept. of Health guidelines which do not define an outbreak by a percentage of a population but rather uses a flat number of three for a class, team or group,” Coleman told CNN.

According to the superintendent, the district’s positivity rate for students is currently at 0.54%. Ocean Springs High School has an enrollment of over 1,800 students. 

The quarantined students were moved to the school’s virtual learning platform Monday, Coleman said.

6:21 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Tennessee reports highest single-day increase in Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

The Tennessee Department of Health reported 3,317 new cases of Covid-19 today, the state's highest single-day increase of cases.

The previous record — 3,314 cases — was set on July 13.

Tennessee has reported a total of 232,061 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. The state also recorded 13 new deaths, bringing the total number of Covid-19-related fatalities to 2,922.

The state’s current positivity rate stands at 8.31%, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

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

6:00 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Mexico will extend US land border restrictions due to coronavirus concerns

From CNN’s Natalie Gallón

A sign indicating a pedestrian crossing from Tijuana, Mexico to the United States is pictured on September 1.
A sign indicating a pedestrian crossing from Tijuana, Mexico to the United States is pictured on September 1. Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico will extend land border restrictions with the United States for another month, the country's foreign ministry announced on Twitter Monday. 

“The restrictions will be maintained in the same terms in which they have been developed since their implementation on March 21st,” the tweet said. The extension will remain in effect through Nov. 21.

The US Embassy in Mexico confirmed the extension in a statement Monday.

“The ups and downs in the outbreaks and flare-ups of Covid-19 have forced us to extend once again the restrictions on the border crossings,” Edgar Ramírez, attaché of the Department of Homeland Security at the United States Embassy in Mexico, said in the statement.

6:07 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Indigenous Colombians defy Covid-19 restrictions for anti-government march

From Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota

Indigenous Colombians protest against the government in Bogota, Colombia, on Monday, October 19. The leaders of the indigenous communities say they are mobilizing to reject massacres, assassinations of social leaders, criminalization of social protest, to defend their territory, democracy and peace, and plan to stay in the capital for a nationwide protest and strike on Oct. 21.
Indigenous Colombians protest against the government in Bogota, Colombia, on Monday, October 19. The leaders of the indigenous communities say they are mobilizing to reject massacres, assassinations of social leaders, criminalization of social protest, to defend their territory, democracy and peace, and plan to stay in the capital for a nationwide protest and strike on Oct. 21. Fernando Vergara/AP

Thousands of indigenous people from southwest Colombia marched in the country’s capital Bogota on Monday to protest the government’s economic policies and to demand an end to violence in their areas. 

According to the mayor's office in Bogota, at least 6,000 people reached the capital, despite Covid-19 restrictions, to demand a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque.

The indigenous Colombians are protesting economic conditions in rural Colombia and the alleged killing of hundreds of social leaders by criminal groups.

Duque has so far refused to meet with the protesters, but his High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos, said in a statement on Sunday the government kept 80% of the promises made when similar grievances were presented last year.

Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez met with protesters on Monday as they reached the central Bolivar Square and said their right to protest should be respected, despite social distancing restrictions ordered by her own office. 

Colombia has reported at least 959,572 Covid-19 cases so far, and the government has declared a state of emergency until the end of October.

5:25 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Covid-19 situation in Brussels "close to a tsunami," Belgian health minister says 

From CNN’s Barbara Wojazer

A person walks past closed restaurants at the Grand-Place in Brussels on October 19.
A person walks past closed restaurants at the Grand-Place in Brussels on October 19. Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

The coronavirus situation in the Belgian region of Wallonia and the capital Brussels is “close to a tsunami,” the health minister said in a televised interview on Sunday. 

Frank Vandenbroucke warned “the health situation in Wallonia and in Brussels is the worst and the most dangerous in the whole of Europe.” 

Belgium is now on Johns Hopkins University’s list of 10 countries currently most affected by coronavirus. 

It has the third-highest number of Covid-related deaths per 100,000 people in the world, sitting behind San Marino and Peru, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Vandenbroucke called on all Belgians to protect themselves and their relatives, adding that the epidemic "is no one’s fault, but improving the situation is everyone’s duty." 

However, the health minister defended the government’s policy of installing a curfew from midnight, and not earlier in the evening, saying that the government “did not want to make life impossible." 

 

4:45 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

California will review any FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine before it is distributed

From CNN's Sarah Moon

California Governor's Office
California Governor's Office

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced the state will independently review the safety of any FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine before it is distributed in the state.

An 11-member task force of health experts, dubbed the “Scientific Safety Review Workgroup,” will review the safety and efficacy of vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration before distribution in the nation’s most populous state, Newsom said.

“A question I often get is: Are you going to take someone's word for it as it relates to vaccines?” Newsom said. “Of course, we don't take anyone's word for it. We will do our own independently reviewed process with our world class experts that just happen to live here in the state of California.”

The vaccines currently in development will initially be available in limited supply and will be prioritized to health care workers, first responders, and higher risk groups, according to Newsom. 

“We don’t anticipate mass availability until 2021,” Newsom said.

While the state is expected to receive about 1.5 to 2 million vaccines, Newsom said the state has approximately that many people working in the health care system. 

The governor also discussed the challenging storage requirements for these vaccines, which need to be stored with dry ice and in extremely cold temperatures. Each distribution of vaccination has to occur on a 21-day period, he said.

Newsom warned that the vaccines won’t end the coronavirus overnight, but will be a key tool to help manage the pandemic. He urged people to continue wearing masks and physically distance.

5:15 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Ireland imposes strict restrictions to tackle surge in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Hilary McGann

Pedestrians wearing face masks are seen in Dublin, Ireland on October 19.
Pedestrians wearing face masks are seen in Dublin, Ireland on October 19. Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland will move to "Level 5" alert — the country's highest level of coronavirus restrictions — for six weeks to tackle a surge in cases, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced on Monday.  

The new restrictions will be imposed starting midnight local time Wednesday, but schools and childcare services will remain open unlike the lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic.  

Last week, Ireland's National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommended to the government for the second time this month that the country should impose stricter measures to stop the spread of the virus. 

In early October, the Irish government went against NPHET's recommendation, and instead chose to impose "Level 3" restrictions throughout the country for three weeks. 

Under the new restrictions, there should be no social gatherings at homes or in gardens, and restaurants, cafes and bars can only open to provide takeaway services.  

Despite the original outline for "Level 5" stating only six people could attend weddings, Martin said they will continue to allow an attendance of 25. The government is also asking people to work from home, unless considered an essential worker. 

Last week, Ireland recorded 7,495 new cases and 26 deaths. Two of those deaths recorded occurred in September, and one happened back in June. 

This marked a considerable jump in cases from the week before, where 4,510 cases and 17 news deaths were recorded. 

On Monday, the total number of cases recorded in the country since the start of the pandemic also surpassed 50,000. 

"The days are getting shorter and colder, but I ask you to remember this; even as the winter comes in there is hope, and there is light. If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way," Martin said during his address to the nation on Monday.