October 22 coronavirus news

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

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020
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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. 

Watch:

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

 

9:29 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Airline groups ask Trump administration for coronavirus testing plan

From CNN's Pete Muntean

The airline industry is telling the federal government that travelers need a way around pandemic quarantines that “are decimating our industry.”

Airline trade groups and worker unions sent a letter Thursday to the heads of the Department of Transportation, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security. The industry plea calls on the Trump administration and governors to create a uniform system of pre-departure testing and contact tracing “so that the travel network can be safely re-opened.”

“In the United States, eighteen states have some type of quarantine,” says the letter. “This patchwork of rules is confusing and discourages travel.”

Airlines see rapid coronavirus testing of passengers as the way to safely speed up air travel’s lethargic rebound, still hovering at roughly 40% of last year’s passenger levels.

United and American Airlines have started coronavirus testing passengers on limited routes in order to bypass mandatory 14-day quarantines in places such as Hawaii and Jamaica.

On Wednesday, United Airlines passengers flying from Newark to London were the first to participate in a trial of a mobile health pass app that securely stores a passenger’s Covid-19 status, including the results of recent coronavirus tests.

9:18 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Pelosi: "We're on a good path" for a stimulus package

From CNN’s Haley Byrd and Kristin Wilson

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference in Washington, DC, on October 8.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference in Washington, DC, on October 8. Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday morning that negotiators are still working toward an agreement for a coronavirus stimulus package, but “we’re on a good path.”

She said she still hopes a stimulus package can be passed before Election Day. 

“I’m still optimistic because I think both sides want to come to agreement,” she said. "Otherwise, why would we even be talking to each other? I mean, this is not, shall we say, an enjoyable conversation."

She added, during an interview with MSNBC, that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will soon be ready to “put pen to paper” for the legislation.

“We’re coming closer to what we must do,” Pelosi said.

She said she’ll be speaking with Mnuchin again later on Thursday.

Asked what she would tell Americans who need aid today, Pelosi said, “Help is on the way. It will be better, it will be bolder, it will be safer, and it will be retroactive.”