October 26 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Luke McGee and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 5:50 p.m. ET, October 27, 2020
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4:38 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

US hits highest 7-day average of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

The latest surge of Covid-19 infections has brought the US' seven-day average of new daily cases to heights not seen since the pandemic began.

Health experts say the resurgence of cases they have warned would strike in the fall and winter months is here and that it could be worse than the US has seen so far. Surging numbers in the US -- where there have been a total of more than 8.6 million infections and 225,230 people have died -- show the nation is at a "dangerous tipping point," former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS News on Sunday.

The seven-day average of new cases has been creeping closer to the previous peak of the pandemic of 67,200 cases on July 22. The past week saw a new record with an average of 68,767 new cases every day.

The two highest single days of new cases were Friday and Saturday with more than 83,000 new cases added each day.

"We're entering what's going to be the steep slope of the curve, of the epidemic curve," Gottlieb told CBS's Margaret Brennan on "Face the Nation."

Though cases are surging across the country, Gottlieb said things are going to start looking worse over the next two or three weeks. He said he doesn't foresee the implementation of forceful policy intervention that could curb the spread.

"If we don't do that, if we miss this window, this is going to continue to accelerate and it's going to be more difficult to get under control," he said.

Read the full story:

3:46 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Analysis: White House admission on pandemic overshadows Trump's last push for reelection

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

A stunning White House claim that the US cannot control the fast-worsening pandemic is overshadowing President Donald Trump's frantic last-ditch bid to turn around his reelection race with Democrat Joe Biden with eight days to go.

The comments by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on CNN on Sunday alarmed medical experts who argue that letting the coronavirus rage unchecked is akin to a policy of herd immunity that will cost many thousands of lives. But with daily new infections hitting record levels, Trump spent the weekend in a campaign blitz in which he openly flouted steps like masking and social distancing that could slow the spread of the disease and moaned that all the media talks about is "Covid, Covid, Covid."

"We are not going to control the pandemic," Meadows told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" Sunday, arguing that "proper mitigation factors" like therapies and vaccines should be the priority.

The window into the administration's thinking came as Trump spent the weekend constructing a giant confidence trick for voters, declaring the country was "rounding the corner beautifully" in the battle against Covid-19.

Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, is refusing to accept standing US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on quarantining after his chief of staff and a 'body man' personal assistant were among five people in his orbit to test positive in a new White House coronavirus hot spot.

The latest signs that Trump is putting his political priorities ahead of his duty of care to the American people come as the President plans a frantic week of packed rallies that flout good social distancing practice.

Read the full analysis:

3:01 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

India sees lowest increase in new Covid-19 cases since July

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Health workers conduct coronavirus testing at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital, on October 23, in New Delhi.
Health workers conduct coronavirus testing at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital, on October 23, in New Delhi. Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India reported its lowest 24-hour rise in Covid-19 cases in three months, according to figures released by the country’s health ministry on Monday.

There were 45,148 new cases reported over the past 24 hours, the ministry said, bringing the nationwide total to 7,909,959 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The last time the country reported figures in this range was on July 23, with 45,719 new cases.

Recoveries make up 90% of the total number of cases at over 7.1 million.

The number of active cases stands at 653,717, making up 8.5% of the total.

India reported 480 new deaths from the virus on Sunday, the lowest increase since July 8. The country's death toll stands at 119,014.

2:03 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Melbourne to end lockdown after Victoria reports no Covid-19 cases for first time in more than 4 months

From CNN's Eric Cheung and Meenketan Jha in Hong Kong

DHHS Testing Commander Jeroen Weimar addresses the media on October 26, in Melbourne, Australia.
DHHS Testing Commander Jeroen Weimar addresses the media on October 26, in Melbourne, Australia. Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Australia’s Victoria state will ease Covid-19 restrictions on Wednesday, after it reported no new cases for the first time in more than four months, state premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday.

Starting on Tuesday 11:59 p.m. local time, the city of Melbourne will move out of lockdown and residents will be allowed to leave their homes, Andrews said. However, they will not be permitted to travel more than 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from their homes. 

What can open:

  • All retail shops, restaurants, cafes, and pubs will be allowed to reopen.
  • Indoor spaces will be allowed to accommodate up to 20 people, while a maximum of 50 people will be allowed in outdoors locations. 
  • Religious ceremonies can be held with a maximum of 20 people outdoors or 10 people indoors, in addition to those required for the service. 

What's next: Andrews said travel limits between Melbourne other parts of Victoria could be removed on November 8 if case numbers remain low.

“With 0 cases and so much testing, we are able to say that now is the time to open up. Now is the time to congratulate every single Victorian who has stayed the course,” Andrews said.
“We are all in this together. We have to be vigilant in the weeks and months to come,” he added. “Until a vaccine comes, there is no normal, there is only Covid normal.”

Read more about the situation in Victoria:

1:46 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

US records more than 60,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Alta Spells

The United States recorded 60,789 new Covid-19 cases and 340 new deaths on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The new deaths means the nation's death toll has surpassed 225,000 fatalities. In total, at least 8,635,966 Covid-19 infections and 225,229 deaths have been recorded in the country.

Saturday saw 83,718 new Covid-19 cases in the US, just 39 cases shy of the all-time record that was reported Friday. 

At least 35 states reported more new Covid-19 cases in the past week than the week prior, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Amid the continuing fall surge, a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration said on Sunday that it may be time for a national mask mandate.

In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Scott Gottlieb wrote the mandate could be "limited and temporary." With deaths expected to rise this winter, policymakers will have to make moves to slow the spread, Gottlieb wrote, adding that there already is no support for reinstating the stay-at-home orders from the spring.

The updated Covid-19 totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.  

CNN is tracking the US cases:

1:26 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

A New Yorker's guide to dining out safely during the pandemic

From CNN's Alaa Elassar

With restaurants reopening, you might think that it's safe again to dine out. Not really.

But there are ways to make it safer.

New Yorkers like me have been grabbing quick bites across the city for months, and have even recently started dining indoors again.

It can be a scary and stressful experience, especially in a city where coronavirus killed more than 500 people a day at its peak in April. But sometimes you just crave a dinner out.

If you're going to do it, take a New Yorker's advice. Here are nine tips to help keep you safe:

  1. Ask yourself whether dining out is necessary: "The bottom line is there is always a risk eating at a restaurant right now," Dr. Stephen Berger, an infectious disease expert and co-founder of the Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Network, told CNN.
  2. Call in advance to avoid large crowds: If you do decide to dine out, call ahead to make sure there isn't a large crowd and that the restaurant follows proper social distancing guidelines.
  3. Ask about their safety protocols: The really careful ones will administer temperature checks, regularly disinfect tables and door handles, enforce face masks and even keep customer records for contact tracing.
  4. Choose outdoor seating when possible: Health experts say it's better to be outdoors, where the virus can dissipate into the air.
  5. Bring your own hand sanitizer and wipes: Lots of restaurants have installed hand sanitizing stations. But you can't always count on them being full.
  6. Wear your face mask: It's important to wear a face mask whenever you're at a restaurant and not eating or drinking.
  7. Avoid the bathroom: If you can hold it, do it. In New York, clean public bathrooms are hard to come by. During a pandemic, even the cleanest bathrooms won't be clean enough.
  8. Don't linger: Long gone are the days when you could stay out all night splitting a bottle of wine with friends. Today, the goal of dining out should be to eat and leave as quickly and safely as possible.
  9. Leave a generous tip: There's never been a more important time to tip.

Read the full story:

12:31 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Australia's Victoria state reports no new Covid-19 cases for first time in more than 4 months

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Australia's Victoria state reported no new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a tweet on Monday.

This is the first time since June 8 that Victoria has reported no new coronavirus infections, statistics from the DHHS have shown. 

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Victoria is now 20,343, and the total death toll is 817.

On Sunday, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the easing of restrictions for some parts of the state. Starting Tuesday, indoor gyms and pools will be allowed to open for up to 20 people, while school graduations can be held on campuses, he said.

Andrews also urged residents to continue to stay vigilant. "We are so close -- so close --  to beating this thing," he said. "I’m asking each of you: keep going."

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement that the country has agreed to open its state borders by Christmas, and congratulated Victoria for the drop in Covid-19 cases.

"Victorians have made great progress in reducing the rate of Covid-19 infections from the second wave outbreak in Victoria," he said on Sunday. "They have played their part and sacrificed much in the pursuit of reaching those targets in the belief restrictions would be eased."
12:00 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

China's Xinjiang conducts mass testing for 4.7 million people after asymptomatic case reported

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

More than 4.7 million people are being tested for the coronavirus in China's Xinjiang province after an asymptomatic case was reported in Kashgar city, the Xinjiang health commission said in a statement on Saturday.

The mass testing program identified 137 more Covid-19 cases as of Sunday afternoon -- all of which were asymptomatic, the statement said.

This brings the total number of cases reported in Xinjiang over the weekend to 138.

As of 2 p.m. local time on Sunday, 2.8 million people had been tested in Kashgar. The mass testing is expected to be completed by Tuesday.

The first asymptomatic case involved a 17-year-old girl who lives in a village in Kashgar. She does not have a fever or cough, and all the other cases identified so far are connected to the factory where the girl's parents work, according to Xinjiang health officials.

All transport in and out of the city is running as usual, and visitors who wish to leave the area will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result from the past seven days, the statement said.

12:41 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

White House chief of staff: "We are not going to control the pandemic"

From CNN's Devan Cole

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the US is "not going to control" the coronavirus pandemic, as cases surge across the country and more than 225,000 Americans have died from the virus.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," Meadows told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."

The comments from President Donald Trump's chief of staff come as coronavirus cases surge across the US and the administration continues to consistently disregard advice from government health experts to wear masks, social distance and avoid large gatherings as a way to curb the spread of the virus. The White House is also facing a potential second outbreak of the virus after at least five people in Pence's inner circle have tested positive in recent days, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Pressed by Tapper on why the US isn't going to get the pandemic under control, Meadows said: "Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu." He added that the Trump administration is "making efforts to contain it."

"What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it's therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don't die from this," Meadows said.

The US reported its second-highest day of new cases on Saturday, with nearly 84,000 Americans contracting the deadly virus. As of Sunday, there were at least 8.6 million total cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 225,200 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Read the full story: