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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11:33 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Long-term heart damage likely in some Covid-19 survivors, review finds

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Long-term heart damage is likely in some survivors of Covid-19, a team of doctors reported Monday.

The doctors found that Covid-19 dysregulates the way the blood clots, and damages the lungs and their ability to process fresh oxygen into the blood, they wrote in a review for the American College of Cardiology.

Patients who have had to undergo ventilation -- and the medicated sedation that goes along with that --- are most in danger, wrote Dr. Sean Pinney of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and his colleagues.

The doctors noted that about a third of survivors of the closely-related severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus in 2003-2004 had persistently abnormal lung function a year after illness, with lower exercise capacity -- and Covid-19 appears to damage the heart even more.

A second study noted a kind of damage to the heart known as myocardial injury in about a quarter of coronavirus patients.

A third study in the same journal noted that patients with excess body fat, uncontrolled blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol face much higher risks of complications from coronavirus. Many Americans have all four problems.

10:58 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Lebanese security chief who met with top US officials tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Alex Marquardt and Kylie Atwood

The head of Lebanon's General Security apparatus, Abbas Ibrahim, speaks during an interview at his office in the capital Beirut on July 22.
The head of Lebanon's General Security apparatus, Abbas Ibrahim, speaks during an interview at his office in the capital Beirut on July 22. Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images

The head of Lebanon’s powerful General Security Directorate, who spent the past several days meeting with senior US national security officials, has tested positive for Covid-19 in Washington, his office announced Monday.

Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim took a coronavirus test in Washington, the post on Facebook said, which came back positive. Ibrahim was due to have meetings in Paris after Washington, which have been canceled.

Ibrahim has been part of the ongoing talks between the White House and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad over US citizens who are believed to be in regime custody. During his visit to Washington, Ibrahim met with National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, who has previously tested positive for Covid-19.

Ibrahim’s diagnosis comes amid news that two senior Trump administration officials met with Syrian regime officials in Damascus this fall in an effort to secure the release of American prisoners believed to be held by the Syrian dictator, two administration officials confirmed to CNN.

Ibrahim spoke with the UAE’s The National news service during his trip, which reported he was also due to meet with the CIA Director Gina Haspel and State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale.

The CIA would not comment on whether Haspel met with Ibrahim but spokesman Tim Barrett told CNN: “Director Haspel continues to test negative and follow CDC guidelines.”

Ibrahim also met with State Department officials, sources told CNN. The State Department has not replied to CNN’s inquiries. 

10:28 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

The Italian region of Lombardy will impose a curfew to stop the latest wave of Covid-19

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato in Rome

Lombardy, Italy's hardest-hit region during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year, will enact a curfew in order to curb a new rise in cases.

Under the curfew -- which begins Thursday -- nearly all activities and travel in public must cease from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Regional authorities also agreed to close shopping centers on weekends, except for stores selling food and basic necessities, to prevent more opportunities for the virus to spread.

Lombardy is home to the city of Milan and a population of more than 10 million. The novel coronavirus took a staggering toll on the region in its earliest days, leading many to call it the pandemic's epicenter in Europe. The elderly population was particularly hard-hit.

Details of exact exemptions, how long the curfew will last and how it will be enforced will be announced in an upcoming regional decree. Under the latest government decree, local administrations have the power to enact lockdowns and curfews for their area. 

9:59 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Iran tallied more Covid-19 deaths on Monday than any other day since the pandemic began

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran, Iran, and Mohammed Tawfeeq in Atlanta 

A woman prays at the grave of her mother, who died from Covid-19, at a cemetery in Babol, Iran in this April 30 file photo.
A woman prays at the grave of her mother, who died from Covid-19, at a cemetery in Babol, Iran in this April 30 file photo. Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Iran reported 337 new Covid-19 related deaths on Monday, the country's Ministry of Health said. It was the highest number of fatalities the nation has seen in a single day since the pandemic began.

At least 30,712 people have now been killed in the country by the novel coronavirus, according to the ministry.

Authorities said 4,251 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Monday, bringing the national total to 534,631.

Travel restrictions to and from Tehran, the capital, have been imposed in order to stymie this latest wave of cases.

9:27 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

New York bars wedding of a Brooklyn rabbi's grandson expected to draw 10,000 people

From CNN's Mirna Alsharif

A wedding at a Hasidic Jewish synagogue that was expected to draw up to 10,000 people has been barred by a New York state order, according to officials.

A grandson of the grand rebbe (rabbi) of Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar in Brooklyn planned to get married Monday, according to a statement attributed to the synagogue which CNN received from the Satmar Wedding Committee.

After an investigation into the planned wedding, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Friday signed a section 16 order barring the event, Beth Garvey, special counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, confirmed at a press conference on Saturday.

"It was outside the target red, or orange or yellow cluster zone, but the information that our investigation revealed was that upwards of 10,000 individuals ... planned to attend," Garvey said.

Read more:

8:21 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

Argentina tops 1 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Sharif Paget

A healthcare worker conducts a nasal swab test for COVID-19 from inside a freestanding coronavirus testing isolation booth at a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, October 19.
A healthcare worker conducts a nasal swab test for COVID-19 from inside a freestanding coronavirus testing isolation booth at a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, October 19. Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Argentina has topped 1 million total known cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, according to the country's health ministry.

Argentina is the fifth country to report more than 1 million known coronavirus cases, following the US, India, Brazil and Russia, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The health ministry reported 12,982 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing Argentina's total number of known cases to 1,002,662.

The country also reported 451 new fatalities from the virus, bringing the country's known coronavirus death toll to 26,716.

7:27 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020

More than 220,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

There are at least 8,206,525 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 220,079 people have died from the virus, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

So far on Monday, Johns Hopkins has recorded 51,931 new cases and 405 reported deaths.

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

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.


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.