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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11:15 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

New York City has a test positivity rate of 2.52%, mayor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

The percent of people who tested positive for Covid-19 citywide is at 2.52%, under the 5% threshold, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. 

The seven-day rolling average is 1.58%, he said. 

The daily number of people admitted to hospitals for Covid-19 is at 62, under the 200 threshold. The confirmed positivity rate for Covid-19 for those patients is 19.7%

With regard to new reported cases on a seven-day average, with a threshold of 550 cases, NYC reports 496. 

One thing to note: These numbers were released by the citys 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

11:05 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

New York City reports 0.17% positivity rate in open schools

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference in New York on October 20.
Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference in New York on October 20. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that testing across the city’s public schools have shown “remarkable” results, as he marked a 0.17% percent positivity rating across all open schools.

After more than 16,000 test results have come back from hundreds of schools, only 28 students and staff have tested positive in the entire school system.

The city has a mandatory testing program which tests once a month in every school. The tests were administered between Oct. 9 through Oct. 16 in 377 schools.

“As we have started that testing program we have just seen remarkable results," he said. “This is really extraordinary,” he added.

“The proof is in the results, and these are amazing results,” de Blasio said, adding this really “bodes well for the future of our schools and our ability to fight and overcome this disease.” 

9:38 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Stocks open higher

From CNN's Anneken Tappe 

US stocks opened modestly higher on Tuesday. The chance of a stimulus deal before the election is shrinking fast, but at least there still is a chance for now.

Wall Street was propped up by this hope at the start of Monday’s session, too, but by midday began trading lower.

In economic data, both building permits and housing starts for September were as strong as expected.

Here's where things opened:

  • The Dow opened 0.4%, or 105 points, higher.
  • The S&P 500 rose 0.5%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite also climbed 0.5%.
9:48 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

India reports fewer than 50,000 daily Covid-19 cases for first time in 3 months

From CNN’s Manveena Suri

A health worker collects a nasal swab to test for Covid-19 in Hyderabad, India, on October 20.
A health worker collects a nasal swab to test for Covid-19 in Hyderabad, India, on October 20. Mahesh Kumar A./AP

India reported fewer than 50,000 new Covid-19 cases for the first time in three months, according to a statement issued by the country’s health ministry on Tuesday.

A total of at least 46,790 new cases were reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to at least 7,597,063 cases.

The last time the country reported figures in that range was on July 28, with 47,703 new cases.

The number of active cases has fallen below 10% at about 748,538, while the number of recovered cases stands at 6,733,328 with the national recovery rate rising to 88.63%.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressed the country via a prerecorded message, which comes ahead of the Hindu festive period that began with Navaratri, or “nine nights" on Saturday. Also known as Durja Puja, it ends with Dussehra on Oct. 27. The celebrations coincide with the harvest season and culminate with Diwali, the five-day festival of lights celebrating the triumph of good over evil, on Nov. 14.

He urged citizens to maintain social distancing, personal hygiene and to wear a mask, saying, “Until success is achieved, do not be negligent. Until the vaccine of this pandemic comes, we should not let our fight weaken.”

“Keep in mind, whether it is America or other countries in Europe, the cases of coronavirus were decreasing in these countries but suddenly they have started rising again,” he added.

9:21 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Vaccine scientist: Next few months may be "one of the darkest chapters in modern American history"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A vaccine scientist warns that the next four to five months could be the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, as more than half of states report a rise in new infections.

“The key is now hanging on now for the next four or five months, where we're going to enter what may be the worst period during this epidemic. As bad as it's been, it's about to get worse,” Peter Hotez said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Hotez, the dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, recommends creating a “unit” with friends or family members for the next few months.

“We could be looking at a doubling of the number of deaths by the week after the inauguration. This is tough stuff. What I've been trying to explain to people is it will get better, but we're going to go through a terrible period,” he said.

Make sure you aren’t alone during this time, and consider having access to mental health counseling as well, he said. 

“People are going to feel abandoned; they're going to feel on their own. This is going to be one of the darkest chapters in modern American history, and get ready for it, but just remember it will get better,” he said. 


8:48 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

The US yesterday reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases on a Monday since July 20

From CNN’s Brandon Miller and Christina Maxouris

Yesterday saw a major rise in case numbers for the US, with at least 58,387 new cases reported on Monday. 

This was the highest number of cases reported on a Monday since July 20, which was during the peak of the summer wave, and was 40% higher than last Monday’s total

Why Mondays matter: Monday is traditionally one of the lowest reporting days of the week, even though it can often contain unreported cases from the weekend.

More than 400,000 new coronavirus cases have been reported in the US over the past 7 days – the highest weekly total since Aug. 4.

Meanwhile across the country, at least 31 states are reporting more new cases than the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins data. Only one state – Hawaii – is trending in the right direction.

 Here's a look at where cases are rising:

8:43 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Miami Beach mayor accuses Florida governor of advocating for herd immunity approach

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber on CNN's "New Day" on October 20.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber on CNN's "New Day" on October 20. CNN

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing him of adopting a controversial declaration that advocates for herd immunity.

“The idea of the Great Barrington Declaration is to let those with, quote, minimal risk build it up naturally while trying to protect others. The problem is those others are about a third of the population,” Gelber said in an interview on CNN. “And they don't just include the elderly, they include people with asthma, people who might have weight problems, people with diabetes, and those people aren't living in segregated communities; they're living in homes with younger people or other people.” 

He said it would lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.

While the state’s case level remains stable, Gelber said he is concerned about not being able to enforce mandatory mask orders and curfews for bars. He said he also worries about visitors to his city spreading Covid-19 to their home states. 

“We are trying to literally protect our residents from their government at this point, because we can't even impose a requirement that people get citations for not wearing a mask. And that's become a real problem, because I worry about the uptick becoming a surge,” Gelber said.


8:38 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Ireland's postal service encourages people to "send love" to the elderly, with free mail as country heads into Europe's strictest lockdown

From CNN's Kara Fox

As the Republic of Ireland prepares for some of the most stringent lockdown measures in Europe, the country's postal service says it will deliver letters, cards, and packages to nursing and care homes for free. 

Ireland’s An Post says the initiative "is about reaching out with compassion, staying connected and sending love to each other."

Visits to long term residential care facilities will be suspended under the country's new coronavirus restrictions, with exceptions made for those in critical and compassionate circumstances.

Customers in Ireland who want to send cards, letters or parcels to care home residents just need to write FREEPOST where they would normally affix a stamp, and then send the items through mailboxes or at the post office as usual, An Post says. 

Ireland’s new restrictions: Under the level 5 lockdown, which come into effect at midnight on Wednesday for 6 weeks:

  • People will be banned from traveling more than 5km from their homes (with exemptions for essential reasons)
  • Indoor social or family gatherings will be prohibited
  • Non-essential retail outlets will be forced to shut
  • Bars, cafes, restaurants and pubs will be able to provide takeaway and delivery services only
  • People will be able to meet with one other household in an outdoor setting
  • Up to 25 guests will be able to attend weddings and funerals
  • Single parents or people living alone who are at risk of social isolation or mental health issues will be able to buddy up with one other person in a similar position. 

But unlike during the level 5 lockdown implemented earlier in the pandemic, schools and childcare services will remain open. 

Ireland's Taoiseach, or prime minister, Micheál Martin said Monday that the decision to keep schools open was a necessity: "We cannot, and will not, allow our children and young people's futures to be another victim of this disease."

Ireland recorded 7,495 new cases and 26 deaths last week, a considerable jump in cases from the week before, when 4,510 cases and 17 deaths were recorded.  

On Monday, the total number of cases recorded in the country since the start of the pandemic surpassed 50,000 and the death toll was 1,852, according to the health department.

10:10 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

NIH director says it is "very unlikely" a Covid-19 vaccine will be authorized before late November

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health, attends a hearing on September 9 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health, attends a hearing on September 9 in Washington, DC. Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images

The United States is unlikely to have a Covid-19 vaccine authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration before late November at the earliest, according to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health.

"I would think it's very unlikely – given the timetables and the standards that have to be followed – that you will hear about an emergency use authorization before late November at the earliest," Collins said during an interview with NPR's "Morning Edition" on Tuesday.

"These will be vaccines that are tested with the most rigorous standards for safety and efficacy," Collins said. "If we get to the point by sometime, maybe the end of this year, where one or more of those is judged to be safe and effective, it will be because it's safe and effective."

The White House Coronavirus Task Force still meets at least once a week with the Vice President to discuss issues such as "the worsening of the pandemic in the middle of the country," Collins added.

"We have not met with the President in quite some time," he said. "I think the President primarily is getting his information from the Vice President, from Dr. Atlas."

Dr. Scott Atlas, who has made controversial comments about mask-wearing recently, serves as the White House coronavirus adviser.

After Donald Trump's attack on Dr Anthony Fauci, Collins said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was "probably the most highly respected infectious disease expert in the world," adding: "I have great confidence in him."

Collins also warned that the US "never got over the first wave" of the virus that hit New York particularly hard, saying "we never really drove the cases down to the baseline."

"We had another big terrible burst in the summer taking the lives of tens of thousands of people in the Southeast. Here we are now with 220,000 dead – and we're going straight up again with the number of cases that are happening each day," Collins said.

He said this was because the US had not succeeded in introducing "really effective public health measures" such as mask-wearing, social distancing and handwashing, adding that his family will not be gathering for Thanksgiving this year.