October 20 coronavirus news

By Emma Reynolds, Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020
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7:28 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Washington state governor puts new restrictions on colleges in response to Covid-19 outbreaks

From CNN’s Andy Rose

 Gov. Jay Inslee
Gov. Jay Inslee Pool

Washington state is requiring people to wear masks at all times in living areas on colleges campuses, including dormitories and Greek houses, following a series of coronavirus outbreaks.

The state is dealing with 35 coronavirus outbreaks at colleges and universities, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday at a news conference. More than 800 cases are "directly attributable to these congregants living and social gatherings associated with campuses," the governor said.

Being outdoors or in “sleeping areas” would be the only exceptions to the order. Common areas will be limited to five people at a time. Colleges and universities must also provide quarantine facilities for all group housing, including fraternities and sororities.

Inslee also encouraged residents to limit the number of people they invite to their homes.

“We tend to feel safe in our own environments, in our own homes,” the governor said. “Covid-19 can penetrate any social bubble.”

7:12 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Ireland records its highest daily death toll since May 

From CNN's Hilary McGann in London, and journalist Peter Taggart in Belfast

Ireland reported 13 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the highest amount it has reported in a day since May. 

During a press conference, Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said the deaths reported occurred in recent days. 

Another 1,269 cases were also recorded. 

On Monday — the same day the country's case count surpassed 50,000 — the Irish government announced it would impose the strictest level of restrictions in the country for the next six weeks, in an effort to tackle a surge in cases. 


6:12 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Southern Miss football coach tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Southern Miss Golden Eagles interim head coach Scotty Walden gets his team fired up during their game with Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on September 19 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, MS.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles interim head coach Scotty Walden gets his team fired up during their game with Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on September 19 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, MS. Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Southern Miss interim head football coach Scotty Walden tested positive for Covid-19 Tuesday morning, the university has announced.

Walden left the team facility to self-isolate at his home and will take a PCR test Wednesday to confirm his status. Until his return, he will oversee the team’s activities from home.

Southern Miss is scheduled to play Liberty University in a game this Saturday. 

"Earlier this morning I tested positive for COVID-19," Walden said in a statement. "I am fine and have mild to no symptoms. I am quarantining back home until it is safe to rejoin the team. I want to thank Golden Eagle Nation for all of their support for our program during this difficult period. I want to thank our players and staff for continuing to be incredibly resilient during such an unstable time. Our team will continue to work diligently in preparation for our game this Saturday against Liberty."

Southern Miss’s game against UTEP scheduled for last Saturday was postponed, with Southern Miss citing “an increase in COVID-19 cases in the program.”

6:05 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Moderna and Pfizer will meet with FDA vaccine committee meeting this week

From CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen and Wes Bruer

Moderna and Pfizer, the two frontrunners in the US race for a Covid-19 vaccine, will be making presentations to an all-day meeting Thursday of a US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee, but both companies said they will not be presenting data from their Phase 3 clinical trials. 

"This is not a moment where we will be sharing data. This is a discussion from the FDA to discuss the requirements for efficacy, safety and manufacturing,” a spokesperson for Pfizer said in an email to CNN. 

Both companies have said they could possibly apply to the FDA for authorization to market their vaccines in the coming weeks if their Phase 3 clinical trial data turns out to be positive. 

Pfizer has said it could apply for emergency use authorization after the third week in November. Moderna has said the federal government could give an EUA to the company’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine in December if the company gets positive interim results in November.

Once the companies apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will advise the agency on whether it thinks authorization should be given. 

The Thursday meeting is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, said members have been asked to keep their schedules clear until 7 p.m. because it might run long. 

Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said “general parameters” will be discussed for how to measure vaccine safety and efficacy. 

5:17 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations in Tennessee are up over 50% since October 1, health official says

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Tennessee has seen a slight increase in its Covid-19 case rate and positivity rate, as well as a dramatic rise in hospitalizations, with numbers up over 50% since Oct. 1, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey announced Tuesday. 

Dr. Piercey said the increase in hospitalizations is primarily because most of Tennessee’s cases are now coming from rural areas.

“As a general principle, our rural populations have more concentrations of older and sicker individuals, who are more likely to need hospitalization if they become ill,” the Health Commissioner said.

To help mitigate the rise in hospitalizations, the state is working with hospital partners on different targeted approaches, including additional funding for hospital staffing, and amping up Covid-19 specific nursing homes to reduce the load of nursing home patients on hospitals, Gov. Bill Lee said.  

Dr. Piercey added that Tennessee’s alternative care sites continue to exercise and prepare in the catastrophic event the state would need to open one of the sites.

5:02 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

No indoor dining and bar service in four Illinois regions starting Friday, governor says

From CNN's Raja Razek 

 Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Illinois Governor's office

In a news conference on Tuesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that four regions would be operating under the standard resurgence mitigations by the end of this week, including no indoor dining or indoor bar service and limiting in-person gatherings to no more than 25 people. 

"Today marks the third day in a row for regions 7 and 8 to report a rolling positivity average of 8% or above. That means that starting on Friday, four counties: Will, Kankakee, DuPage, and Kane will all see the heightened resurgence mitigations already in place in region 1," he said. 

"New restrictions were announced yesterday for region 5, Southern Illinois, so that means four of our 11 regions have triggered our fail-safe state action metric," Pritzker added. 

The governor also discussed how the new wave of the virus is disrupting small businesses in these regions, saying, "They will receive priority consideration for the 220 million dollars in the current round of business interruption grants."

According to Pritzker, of the seven regions that are still operating under phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, five are now at a rolling positivity average above 7%, with the other two regions above 6.5%.

"All continue to show increases over last week, and most regions of the state continue to see increases in COVID related hospital admissions," Pritzker said. 

"As colder weather approaches and flu season is upon us, we're going to see the rippling effects of these current unfortunate trends."

4:44 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Colorado breaks record for Covid-19 average case count

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The state of Colorado is seeing its highest seven-day average count of Covid-19 cases.

“We are at our highest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic,” state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said at a news conference Tuesday. “We have had three waves of illness. A spring wave, a July wave and now a fall wave.”

The one-week rolling average was listed at 960 as of Tuesday. The record for a single-day case count was set Oct. 15 at 1,155. Health officials say some of the increase compared to the early days of the pandemic is likely to be due to higher testing capacity, but it is still a dangerous trend. “We cannot go on as we have been,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “The status quo is not acceptable.”

The biggest concern is the possibility of stressing the state’s hospital capacity.

“We are still seeing an increase in hospitalizations,” Polis said, amounting to about one out of every four hospital beds being filled with a coronavirus patient. 

“We are projected to exceed the level of hospitalizations we saw in the spring in about mid-November,” Herlihy said. She added that, with more people likely to be indoors and gathered together during the holidays, they could exceed their intensive care capacity by late December.

4:42 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Former FDA commissioner predicts US is a week away from "rapid acceleration" in Covid-19 cases

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

In this April 5, 2017 file photo, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing at on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
In this April 5, 2017 file photo, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing at on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Zach Gibson/Getty Images

In about a week, the United States may see a "rapid acceleration" in Covid-19 cases, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, predicted on Monday.

"It's going to be a difficult fall and winter. I think we're about two or three weeks behind Europe – so we're about a week away from starting to enter a period where we're going to see a rapid acceleration in cases," Gottlieb told CNBC's Shepard Smith.

"We're seeing hospitalizations go up in 42 states right now, cases are going up in 45 states, and there really is no backstop," Gottlieb said. "The summer was a backstop of sorts to the spring surge and we have no therapeutic backstop and this season, the fall and winter season, is when this coronavirus is going to want to spread."

4:40 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Wisconsin reports more than 4,500 new cases on Tuesday

From CNN's Kay Jones

Members of the Wisconsin National Guard test residents for the coronavirus at a temporary test facility in Milwaukee on October 9.
Members of the Wisconsin National Guard test residents for the coronavirus at a temporary test facility in Milwaukee on October 9. Scott Olson/Getty Images

There are 4,591 new cases of Covid-19 in Wisconsin today, according to state health officials. 

Department of Health Services Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon that the numbers include backlogged cases that accumulated when the state's electronic disease surveillance system went through an upgrade and enhancement over the weekend.

She said that the numbers may be higher over the next few days as they work through importing the data. 

Wisconsin has 178,482 total positive cases since the pandemic began. Palm said that 43% of the state's total cases have come within the past month and 62% over the past two months. 

"Covid-19 is spreading in every community across our state," Palm said. "In recent weeks we've asked you to stay home and to wear a mask if you go out because it was safe to assume that the virus is everywhere in Wisconsin." 

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said during the press conference that the ruling made by a circuit court judge on Monday denying a temporary injunction on the state's emergency order limiting public gatherings to 25% capacity was critically important in helping prevent the spread of the virus. 

He said that he wants to see small businesses, including restaurants and bars, succeed but that it won't happen until everyone starts taking this pandemic seriously.