October 23 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Tara John, Ed Upright, Veronica Rocha, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020
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2:07 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

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

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Bottles of pills sit on shelves at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20.
Bottles of pills sit on shelves at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20. George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

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. 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 -- including diazepam, phenobarbital, lidocaine and acetaminophen -- are in short supply, the report said.

"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.

Read more:

1:36 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

2 US churches won a lawsuit against Covid-19 restrictions. Now their members no longer have to wear masks

From CNN’s Raja Razek

A federal judge has ruled that Colorado's Denver Bible Church and Community Baptist Church do not have to limit their indoor occupancy and members will not be required to wear masks as required by the state's Covid-19 health mandate.  

Judge Daniel Domenico partially granted the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on October 15 after a lawsuit was filed against state and federal officials by Pastor Robert Enyart of Denver Bible Church and Joey Rhoads of Community Baptist Church.  

"The court does not doubt that the state made these decisions in good faith, in an effort to balance the benefits of more public interaction against the added risk that inheres in it," read the court document. 

"But the Constitution does not allow the state to tell a congregation how large it can be when comparable secular gatherings are not so limited, or to tell a congregation that its reason for wishing to remove facial coverings is less important than a restaurant's or spa's."

In a phone call with CNN, Enyart said, "We have a right, even an obligation to worship him (God), and that's without government interference." 

"The government has put artificial limits on how many people could attend. And those limits, make it pretty much impossible for families to know if they could come to Church," he added. "It is too arbitrary, and we are so thankful this federal judge rules gave us preliminary injunction to strike down the one arbitrary limit and the mask requirement."

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis's press secretary Conor Cahill told CNN in an email, "We're not going to comment on pending litigation." 

He added: "Attorney General on Monday filed an Emergency Motion for Stay of Injunction Pending Appeal in the Tenth Circuit." 

1:11 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

More than 71,000 coronavirus cases were reported in the US on Thursday

From CNN's Joe Sutton

The United States reported 71,671 new cases of Covid-19 and 856 virus-related deaths on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

To date, at least 8,407,702  cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in the US. At least 223,032 people have died.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

Track cases here:

12:40 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

New model predicts more than 385,000 US Covid-19 deaths by February 1

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Health care workers perform Covid-19 testing at a drive-through site at Eastern Florida State College on October 9, in Palm Bay, Florida.
Health care workers perform Covid-19 testing at a drive-through site at Eastern Florida State College on October 9, in Palm Bay, Florida. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An influential model of the coronavirus pandemic predicts 385,611 coronavirus deaths in the United States by February 1.

The US has reported at least 223,000 Covid-19 deaths over the past eight months, according to Johns Hopkins University. The model estimates that the country could see more than 100,000 additional deaths over the next three months.

The new model is slightly fewer than last week’s forecast for the same time frame -- but the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine says case counts and deaths are up across the US.

“In the last week, the increase in daily cases has become much clearer, and for the first time since early August, daily deaths have begun to rise. We believe that the fall/winter surge has begun, albeit several weeks behind the massive surge in Europe,” the IHME says in its weekly update.
“The fall/winter surge will intensify in November and December, reaching a peak in January. Many states will face enormous pressure on hospital capacity and will likely have to re-impose some social distancing mandates. The best strategy to delay re-imposition of mandates and the associated economic hardship is to expand mask use.”

Last week, the IHME projected 389,087 coronavirus deaths in the US by February 1. The current projections assume states will reimpose social distancing mandates when daily death rates worsen.

The model projects 100,000 more deaths if all mandates were eased -- an unlikely scenario -- and 322,000 deaths if everyone started wearing masks.

12:02 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

FDA's advisers worry about trust in Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

A sign for the Food And Drug Administration is seen outside of the agency's headquarters in White Oak, Maryland, on July 20.
A sign for the Food And Drug Administration is seen outside of the agency's headquarters in White Oak, Maryland, on July 20. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Vaccine advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration said Thursday they are worried about public trust in any coronavirus vaccine. 

The first Covid-19-focused meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee -- a standing committee that advises the FDA on vaccine approval -- skewed heavily toward worries that people will see emergency use authorization (EUA) of a Covid-19 vaccine as too rushed. 

“There’s only one chance to do this right. If we do it wrong, then we are done for,” said Sheldon Toubman, staff attorney for the New Haven Legal Assistance Association who is the consumer representative on the committee.
“We won’t be able to dig out of it.”

The FDA has said it would consider an EUA for any of the several vaccines now in advanced clinical trials -- a process faster than full licensure -- but has also promised it will have stricter requirements for a vaccine EUA than it would for an EUA for a drug to treat coronavirus.

But the term implies corners are being cut -- and perceptions matter, Toubman argued.

“So anything that sounds like emergency use authorization, it sounds like it’s being done in a rush and it’s not full review,” he said. 
“I recommend that we not do an EUA here.”

Some vaccine experts agreed. “I wish we could get rid of the word EUA,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a committee member.

“It’s very clear that the public has significant concerns about safety,” added Dr. Archana Chatterjee, Vice President for Medical Affairs at Rosalind Franklin University and a committee member.

10:25 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Data shows Covid-19 treatment remdesivir isn't a "home run," says former vaccine director 

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Data on the Covid-19 drug remdesivir show that it has only modest benefits and isn’t a “home run,” former US Health and Human Services official-turned whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright said Thursday.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved remdesivir Thursday to treat hospitalized Covid-19 patients -- the first drug to be approved for coronavirus. 

Bright said it’s not an impressive drug.

“It's important to note that even the data that we saw in the United States from that drug show that the benefit was modest,” Bright told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “It wasn't a home run. It wasn't a remarkable improvement in terms of mortality, or even the lengthening or shortening of the length of hospital stay, but it did show some marginal benefit.”

World Health Organization-sponsored global study found that remdesivir did not help Covid-19 patients survive or recover faster. 

“The FDA clearly has reviewed all of the data that they have available to them from the company to review the efficacy and safety of that drug,” Bright said. 

“It’s not too surprising that another, perhaps even larger, well-controlled study from the WHO would refute that data,” he added.

Bright said that it’s likely that larger studies, like the WHO’s, would show that the marginal benefit of remdesivir may become even more marginal, depending on the population of those using the drug.

10:25 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Remdesivir becomes first Covid-19 treatment to receive FDA approval

From CNN's Maggie Fox

One vial of the drug Remdesivir lies during a press conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany on April 8.
One vial of the drug Remdesivir lies during a press conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany on April 8. Ulrich Perrey/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved remdesivir for the treatment of coronavirus infection, the drug's maker, Gilead Sciences, said Thursday.

It is the first drug to be approved for treating Covid-19. The drug, sold under the brand name Veklury, has been used under emergency use authorization since May.

The antiviral has shown, at best, a modest benefit for coronavirus patients. But there is little else available.

"In the United States, Veklury is indicated for adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older and weighing at least 40 kg) for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization," the company said in a statement.
"Veklury should only be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care."

Earlier this month, a World Health Organization-sponsored global study found remdesivir did not help patients survive or even recover faster, but a US study found the infused drug shortened recovery time for some patients by about a third.

Read the full story:

10:29 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

One US state is getting National Guard help, and others keep breaking records

From CNN's Holly Yan and Christina Maxouris

You know Covid-19 is out of control when health officials are so overwhelmed, they can't notify close contacts who may be infected.

That's what's happening in North Dakota, one of 31 states suffering more new Covid-19 cases this past week compared to the previous week.

Contact tracing is crucial to finding possible carriers of coronavirus, so they can quarantine and break the chain of infection.

But a "sharp increase" in new cases has engulfed contact tracers, leading to delays and "a backlog of positive cases that have yet to be assigned to a case investigator," the North Dakota Department of Health said this week.

"Close contacts will no longer be contacted by public health officials; instead, positive individuals will be instructed to self-notify their close contacts and direct them to the NDDoH website, where landing pages will be created ... explaining the recommended and required actions for both positive patients and close contacts."

The North Dakota National Guard has shifted 50 soldiers from contacting close contacts to notifying people who have tested positive, the state health department said.

Read the full story:

10:09 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Czech PM apologizes as country suffers in Europe's second coronavirus wave

From CNN's Laura Smith-Spark and Ivana Kottasová

The Czech Republic's coronavirus crisis is now so bad that when Prime Minister Andrej Babis stood in front of reporters during a live news conference Wednesday, he did something few leaders often do. He apologized to the people. Five times.

Babis, who is overseeing one of the worst coronavirus epidemics in the world, admitted he and his government had made mistakes in handling the outbreak and pleaded with people to follow strict lockdown rules.

"I am sorry for the new restrictions that will impact lives of business owners, citizens, employees. I am also sorry for having de facto ruled out the possibility of this happening because I could not imagine that this would happen," Babis said.

The Czech leader's contrition came as other European nations, including Germany and Poland, reported record daily new case numbers, and Ireland prepared to impose the strictest lockdown in Europe.

Both Spain and France surpassed 1 million total recorded Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) figures. They join the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and Argentina in passing that threshold.

The number of cases reported by the French health ministry is lower than the JHU total, at 957,421 as of Wednesday.

Read the full story: