October 22 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Tara John and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020
42 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
10:44 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Southwest Airlines says it will sell every seat 

From CNN’s Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace 

A Southwest Airlines plane prepares to land at McCarran International Airport in Nevada on May 25.
A Southwest Airlines plane prepares to land at McCarran International Airport in Nevada on May 25. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Southwest Airlines is about to sell every seat on board its flights.

The news comes on the heels of the airline announcing record financial losses because of the pandemic.

In a Thursday earnings report, Southwest announced it will no longer limit capacity on flights starting Dec. 1. The change marks an end to Southwest’s pandemic policy and allows it the opportunity to fill planes through the typically busy holiday travel season.

“This practice of effectively keeping middle seats open bridged us from the early days of the pandemic, when we had little knowledge about the behavior of the virus, to now,” Southwest said. “Today, aligned with science-based findings from trusted medical and aviation organizations, we will resume selling all available seats for travel beginning December 1, 2020.”

That leaves Delta Air Lines as the final remaining big four carrier to limit capacity in aircraft cabins. Executives have said that policy will continue until next year. United Airlines and American Airlines have been selling every seat for months.

Alaska Airlines announced Thursday it will extend its policy of blocking middle seats until Jan. 6.

recently-released Defense Department study found that among mask-wearing airplane passengers, the risk of airborne droplet transmission in airplanes is limited due to specialized air flow and filtration systems.


10:42 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

New Jersey governor will continue to quarantine despite negative Covid-19 test

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at an event on October 21 in Blackwood, New Jersey. He told attendees that he must leave the event after just finding out that he'd been in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.
Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at an event on October 21 in Blackwood, New Jersey. He told attendees that he must leave the event after just finding out that he'd been in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19. New Jersey Office of the Governor/AP

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he would continue to quarantine and test after a senior communications adviser tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.

The governor told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle that while he had tested negative twice, "we're going to test a couple more times negative before we get back out and start reengaging with people."

Noting the rise in cases in his state, Murphy said he hopes with all of his “heart” the state does not have to shut down again. In terms of mitigating the rise, he thinks the best approach is with a “scalpel” rather than a “hammer,” pertaining to potential targeted action.

Murphy added that the state was concerned about "COVID fatigue," but that enforcement had become complicated by a rise in indoor gatherings instead of large, visible public ones.

He said most of the challenge is not in the “public square.” 

"It is much more often now in private homes, beyond your ability to, you know, regulate or more importantly, enforce compliance," Murphy said.

The governor said he had offered prayers for the recovery of his predecessor, Chris Christie, who was recently hospitalized for coronavirus, and who wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging people to wear masks.

"It takes somebody with a lot of character to stand up and say, 'You know what? I screwed up, or I was wrong,'" Murphy said. "Whether it's with Gov. Christie, whether it's with other folks across the political spectrum, I do think there's an opportunity here to say, wait a minute, this isn't politics."
10:29 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Puerto Rico closes 911 centers after employees test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Roxanne Garcia

Puerto Rico has closed the island's 911 emergency call centers after employees at both locations tested positive for coronavirus, Public Health Secretary Pedro Janer said in a statement. 

Janer said the island will be using central control as a point of contact in order to ensure operations and emergencies are tended to correctly. This will operate 24 hours a day with appropriate staffing, he added. 

For emergency situations residents are being told to call the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency. Personnel there will then launch all calls to the respective municipalities or state, Janer said. 

All employees who may have come into contact with a positive case have been asked to quarantine and will be tested in the coming days. 

10:24 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Parts of Portugal are under partial lockdown

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

The Portuguese government has placed three municipalities in the northern part of the country under partial lockdown after a surge in new infections. 

Residents in the municipalities of Felgueiras, Lousada and Paços de Ferreira must stay indoors except to go to work, acquire goods or services, for health reasons, to assist vulnerable family members or to take children to school, the Portuguese government said in a statement on Thursday.

The restrictions require all business to close no later than 10 p.m. and all gatherings and events are restricted to no more than five people.

Those who can work from home must do so, the statement reads. Visitations at care homes will also be suspended.

10:18 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Moderna enrolls all 30,000 participants in US Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A man in DeLand, Florida, receives an injection on August 4 as part of a Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial, sponsored by Moderna.
A man in DeLand, Florida, receives an injection on August 4 as part of a Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial, sponsored by Moderna. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Moderna, the first company to start US clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine, finished enrolling all 30,000 of its participants on Thursday.

All 30,000 have received their first shot, and most of them have also received the required second shot.

Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna's president, said the company is now on track to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization to put the vaccine on the market in early December “if all the stars align.”

Hoge said enrolling 30,000 participants is “just a milestone – it’s not the mission.” Half of the participants received the vaccine and half received a placebo, or a shot of saline that does nothing. The participants receive a second shot four weeks later.

Some background: Moderna is one of four US Phase 3 trials of coronavirus vaccines, each involving tens of thousands of participants.  

Moderna started its Phase 3 trial on July 27, and Pfizer started its trial that evening. AstraZeneca started its US trial Aug. 31 and paused it about a week later when a participant fell ill. Johnson & Johnson started its trial Sept. 23 and paused it less than three weeks later for the same reason. Both of those pauses are still in effect.

Pfizer has said it could apply for emergency use authorization after the third week in November

What happens next: Hoge said three things needs to happen before Moderna applies to the FDA for emergency use authorization.

  1. Of the 30,000 participants, 53 need to become sick with Covid-19. The company expects that to happen in the second half of November.
  2. The second milestone is that of the 53 participants who become ill with Covid-19, at least 40 of them need to be participants who received the placebo. That would show the vaccine is 75% effective.
  3. The third milestone is a requirement by the FDA to ensure that enough time has passed to see if participants develop side effects. (The FDA rule is that at least eight weeks must pass after half the participants have received their second shot before a company can apply for emergency use authorization.) So far, 25,650 participants have received their second shot, and Hoge said Moderna expects to hit this safety milestone in the second half of November.

Moderna also released the racial breakdown of its study participants on Thursday. Of the 30,000 participants, 20% are Latino and 10% are Black. Those are higher than the percentages the company was achieving early in its trial, but still lower than the percentages sought by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

10:30 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

"There's nobody here": Independent restaurants face bleak future without more federal aid

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The Playwright Irish Pub in midtown Manhattan.
The Playwright Irish Pub in midtown Manhattan. CNN

As winter approaches, small restaurants face an uncertain future.

“We are back where we started in March. We really are,” said John Doherty, who owns the Playwright Irish Pub in midtown Manhattan. “There’s nobody here.”

“We're begging for help. We really need help. We feel like we're at the bottom of the mountain, we're trying to climb. There’s no rope to help us,” he said. 

He laid off nearly all of his 25 employees and used up his Paycheck Protection Program loan.

According to the National Restaurant Association, nearly half of the 660,000 US restaurants say they won’t make it another six months without federal aid, CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich reports. 

It has a ripple effect on other businesses, as well. Ivan Mendez, a printer who used to print signs for the Playwright and 30 other businesses, now had to lay off half his staff and dip into his 401(k), he said. He said he thinks he will have to close.

Doherty said he is investing in preparing his bar for winter patrons, “because I think tomorrow has to be a better day than today.”

“I want to show I've done everything I possibly could to make my business successful. If I have exhausted all my energy and failed, I tried my best,” he said. 


9:42 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

CDC's ensemble forecast now projects up to 247,000 US Covid-19 deaths by Nov. 14

From CNN's Ben Tinker

An ensemble forecast published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 235,000 to 247,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Nov. 14.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published Oct. 15, projected up to 240,000 coronavirus deaths by Nov. 7. 

At least 222,176 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

9:44 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

US stocks open higher

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

US stocks inched higher at the opening bell in New York Thursday, despite investors growing more skeptical that a new stimulus deal will be worked out before the election.

Jobless claims data showed a mixed picture, with lower than expected first-time and continued claims for unemployment benefits. On the flip side, the number of people on the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides money for those who have maxed out state benefits, rose by half a million to 3.3 million people.

Here's where things stand:

  • The Dow opened 0.1%, or 27 points, higher.
  • The S&P 500 rose 0.2%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite opened up 0.4%.
9:34 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic is causing "unacceptable" shortages in US drug supplies, report says

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

The coronavirus pandemic is causing “unacceptable” shortages of US drug supplies in the United States, according to a report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

The report says shortages have limited 29 of 40 drugs critical for treating Covid-19 patients, including propofol, albuterol, midazolam, hydroxychloroquine, fentanyl, azithromycin and morphine, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, while the FDA, which has more stringent criteria for shortages, show 18 of 40 are on the drug shortage list.

Another 67 out of 156 critical acute drugs are in short supply, the report said, including diazepam, phenobarbital, lidocaine and acetaminophen.

“Drug shortages can be a matter of life and death, and some shortages mean that a life-saving drug is not available to U.S. patients at any price,” the authors wrote.    

“The urgency with the drug shortage supply issue is related directly to the major increase in COVID-19 cases that we will experience in the coming months,” Michael Osterholm, the director of CIDRAP, said in a news release. 

“This, in turn, will dramatically increase the need for specific COVID-19 treatment drugs, while at the same, COVID-19 is having a major impact on two of the three key drug manufacturing areas of the world, India and Italy,” Osterholm added.   

The pandemic has “jolted the global pharmaceutical market at all levels and production points” and exacerbated a problem that dates back several decades, researchers said.

Closed factories, shipping delays or shutdowns and trade limitations or export bans have severely impacted the supply side of the chain, the analysis concluded, while the pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in the global demand for Covid-19 therapies. 

The report also suggests recommendations for combatting drug shortages, including creating a new federal entity to track, analyze, predict, prevent and mitigate drug