October 21 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020
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8:18 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

More than 2.5 million years of life have been lost to the pandemic in the US, study says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

More than 2.5 million years of life have been lost in the United States due to the coronavirus and each person who had a Covid-19-associated death lost over 13 years, according to a preprint study posted Tuesday on MedRxiv. 

MedRxiv is a preprint server, which means that the study has not year been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal. 

“In this study I have attempted to quantify the extent of life lost so far in this pandemic as of October 3, 2020 where data for the age and sex distribution of over 194,000 Covid-19 associated deaths was available,” said the preprint, authored by Stephen Elledge, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

These calculations reveal a profound loss of life as measured in person-years of almost 2.5 million person-years as of early October 2020 in the United States.” 

Elledge found that a total of 2,572,102 years of life were lost due to 194,087 deaths. Breaking it down by gender, men lost 1,461,662 years from 104,896 deaths and females lost 1,110,440 years from 89,191 deaths. 

Each person lost, on average, 13.25 life years per Covid-19 associated death. Males lost slightly more years of life at 13.93 compared with females losing 12.45. 

He also found that “a significant proportion of deaths due to Covid-19 occur in individuals in their 40s, 50s and 60s who had dozens of years of expected life ahead of them.” 

To work out the number of years of life lost, Elledge used data from the Social Security Administration to look at normal life expectancies, and data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Covid-19 deaths per 10-year age group. 

The study comes to similar conclusions as others that looked at life years lost, it says, although previous studies project slightly fewer years lost per death, which could be to do with the method of analysis or the fact that they were conducted earlier in the pandemic. 

Elledge wrote that his research has potential sources of error, such as the distribution of deaths within 10-year spans provided by the CDC, the lack of distribution of ethnicities in fatality data and the effect of comorbidities on life expectancy of Covid-19 deaths.

8:06 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

US Surgeon General tweets that herd immunity could lead to "many deaths"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Surgeon General Jerome Adams attends a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on September 9 in Washington, DC.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams attends a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on September 9 in Washington, DC. Greg Nash/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on Wednesday tweeted that a herd immunity approach to combat coronavirus could lead to many deaths and "there is no example" of herd immunity as a successful strategy against Covid-19.

The summary: Large numbers of people would need to be infected to achieve herd immunity without a vaccine; this could overwhelm health care systems and lead to many complications/deaths," Adams posted on his personal Twitter account Wednesday morning.

"So far, there is no example of a large-scale successful intentional infection-based herd immunity strategy," Adams wrote, adding that the best way to stay safe, reduce the spread of infection and keep the country open was to wear masks, wash hands and watch distances.

The topic has recently gained traction in the US and White House senior administration officials last week discussed a controversial declaration from a group of scientists during a call with reporters.

The Great Barrington Declaration advocates for ending lockdowns, building immunity and pushing for those who are not vulnerable to Covid-19 to resume normal life. A senior administration official said it aligned "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."

8:01 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

Amazon will let some employees work from home until mid-2021

From CNN’s Rob McLean

Amazon plans to let some of its employees work from home until the middle of next year.

Employees with work that can effectively be done from home can continue to do that work from home through June 30, 2021," an Amazon spokesperson said Tuesday night.

Amazon currently allows office workers to go into work, and the company said it had invested significant resources in changing the structure of its office space to allow for physical distancing. It also deep-cleans its offices, facilitates temperature checks and provides face masks and hand-sanitizer for employees.

Amazon continues to "to prioritize the health of our employees and follow local government guidance," the spokesperson said.

The numbers: Earlier this month, Amazon said 19,816 of its frontline US employees at Amazon and Whole Foods had tested positive or been presumed positive for the coronavirus. It marked the first time the company had shed light on the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases at its warehouses. Amazon had repeatedly resisted sharing that comprehensive data with the public and with its own workers. 

Amazon warehouses have become crucial hubs for household supplies during the pandemic. Despite numerous confirmed cases at warehouses across the country and the world, the e-commerce company has downplayed the significance of releasing site or aggregate data, making it difficult to get a clear picture of overall infections.

Sara Ashley O'Brien contributed to this report.

7:54 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

For some, pandemic isolation has been deadly

Isolation during Covid-19 was meant to protect, but for some, it has proved deadly. The world is experiencing an explosion of domestic abuse on a global scale.

As more people have to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, many victims are locked in with their abusers, and some domestic abuse support services have been put on hold. Ongoing job loss, government inaction, judicial backlogs and many other factors have all contributed to a global crisis that the United Nations is calling a "shadow pandemic."

France saw a 42% year-on-year jump in the number of domestic violence interventions during lockdown. In Venezuela, there was a 65% increase in femicides for the month of April compared to the same month in 2019. Calls to a women’s hotline went up more than 500% in Uganda.

In the United States, one teenager shared his mother's tragic story:

See CNN's full interactive coverage of the world's domestic abuse crisis here:

7:29 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

With limited attendees and a neutral site, this pandemic-era World Series is like no other

Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats during Game 1 of the 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays on October 20 in Arlington, Texas.
Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats during Game 1 of the 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays on October 20 in Arlington, Texas. Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays are facing off in the World Series. With the coronavirus pandemic, it's a Fall Classic the likes of which we have never seen before. 

A limited number of fans are being allowed to attend, and it's the first time the best-of-seven series is being played on a neutral site -- the newly opened Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

This is the 20th World Series appearance for the Dodgers, who competed for the title in three of the last four years. The team won six times, but not since 1988. 

It's just the second time the Rays have made it to the World Series, which they won in 2008.

See the best photos here:

6:54 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

The only space station crew to launch during a pandemic is now coming home

From CNN's Ashley Strickland

After launching to the International Space Station on April 9, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will return to Earth on Wednesday, October 21. 

The crew launched just weeks after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, making them the first crew to launch to space under such conditions.

Cassidy, the current Expedition 63 mission commander, handed over the command of the space station to newly arrived Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov during a change of command ceremony on Tuesday.

Out of space: The departing crew will bid farewell on Wednesday to NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, who just launched and arrived on the space station last week.

They will close the hatch to their Soyuz spacecraft on Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. ET, undock from the station at 7:32 p.m. ET and are expected to land at 10:55 p.m. ET southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan on the steppe of Kazakhstan, according to NASA. The agency will provide live coverage of the crew's departure and landing on its website.

Read the full story here:

6:30 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

Czech Deputy Prime Minister tests positive for Covid-19

From journalist Tomas Etzler in Prague

Czech Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamacek attends a press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, on November 21, 2019.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamacek attends a press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, on November 21, 2019. Martin Divisek/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The Czech Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamacek has tested positive for Covid-19, the spokesperson Czech Social Democratic Party, Eva Gregorova, told CNN on Wednesday. 

Hamacek is also Minister of Interior and the chairman of the Central Crisis Staff, a governmental body tasked with dealing with crises situations, including Covid-19.

The Czech government was on Wednesday meeting in an emergency session, discussing additional measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

“The emergency session of the government is under way at this moment,” it posted on its official Twitter account. “The proposals for new crises measures, which should more effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the Czech Republic and stop the unfavourable development in recent days, are being discussed.”

Authorities in the Czech Republic reported 11,984 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the highest daily increase on record.

At least 193,946 cases have been confirmed in the country since the pandemic began, according to data released by Czech health authorities early on Wednesday, and at least 1,619 people have died.

The Czech Republic was hailed as a success story during Europe's first wave of Covid-19 in March, mainly thanks to a strict mask mandate. But after relaxing the rules at the end of the summer after case numbers dropped, it has struggled to cope with the rising number of infections.

According to the European Centre for Disease Control, the Czech Republic has the worst infection rate in Europe, with more than 900 infections per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.

6:05 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

"It's brutal": Manchester mayor responds to tighter Covid-19 restrictions

From CNN's Salma Abdelaziz and Sarah Dean

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaks to the media outside Bridgewater Hall, in Manchester, England, on October 20.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaks to the media outside Bridgewater Hall, in Manchester, England, on October 20. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham slammed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the northern English city was forced into the country's strictest Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, after local leaders and the central government failed to reach an agreement on an economic relief deal on Tuesday.

Burnham said he requested £90 million ($117 million) in government support until the end of the financial year -- based on a £15 million per month costing -- but the government tabled £60 million. Burnham said he later agreed to £65 million but the government did not budge and walked away. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a Downing Street news conference Tuesday that the government “made a generous and extensive offer to support Manchester’s businesses” but “the Mayor didn’t accept this unfortunately.

He said that Greater Manchester will receive £22 million of financial help, adding that not to enforce the new restrictions “would put Manchester’s NHS [National Health Service], and the lives of many of Manchester’s residents, at risk.”

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the House of Commons that the £60 million offer was still on the table.

The opposition Labour party will today force Parliament to vote for a fair deal for communities facing restrictions, according to its leader Keir Starmer.

Under the new Tier 3 rules, Manchester will have to shut pubs and bars and there will be a ban on social mixing indoors and in private gardens -- although questions have been raised over how the region will comply following the stand-off.

Many in the UK -- including Starmer and scientists advising the government -- have called for a national "circuit-breaker" lockdown, as seen in Wales and Ireland. But Johnson has resisted the calls so far, favoring a tiered, localized approach.


4:46 a.m. ET, October 21, 2020

One expert says the US is nearing "rapid acceleration" of Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

A nurse holds a bag with swab kits at a walk-up Covid-19 testing site in Lynn, Massachusetts, on October 19.
A nurse holds a bag with swab kits at a walk-up Covid-19 testing site in Lynn, Massachusetts, on October 19. Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

A leading health expert says US Covid-19 cases will begin to rapidly accelerate in a week as the country topped 60,000 new infections Tuesday -- triple what the daily average was back in June, when restrictions had begun to ease.

The prediction comes after several state leaders reimposed some measures to help curb the spread of the virus, fueled by small gatherings increasingly moving indoors with the colder weather, as well as other factors such as college and school reopenings. The national seven-day case average has increased at least 18% since the previous week and is now a staggering 61% higher than what it was five weeks ago. And as multiple experts have warned, things will likely get worse before they get better.

"It's going to be a difficult fall and winter," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC Monday. "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."

The difference is many European countries were able to suppress their numbers of new cases over the summer, but the US entered the fall season with a relatively high baseline average of new infections -- something experts warned wouldn't help in containing another surge of cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this week European Union countries were able to bring their baseline down because of strict and stringent lockdowns, adding the US did not "shut down nearly as much as our colleagues in Italy and Spain."

Ahead of bleak outlooks of the coming weeks, hospitalizations in the US have also began to rise, with more than 39,000 Covid-19 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

"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. "This fall and winter season is when the coronavirus is going to want to spread."

Read the full story: