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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9:28 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

1 in 5 members of Russia's lower house of parliament have had or currently have Covid-19, official says

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin in Moscow on October 26.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin in Moscow on October 26. Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Getty Images

At least one out of every five lawmakers in the lower house of Russia’s parliament currently have or have had coronavirus, the speaker of the house, also known as Duma, told President Vladimir Putin in a meeting Monday.

“The situation indeed is not an easy one. The collegial body is obliged to assemble, so every time, despite the fact that we do the testing, we see that more and more of our colleagues are sick. Today, 38 lawmakers are in hospitals, one is in intensive care. You know that one lawmaker died as a result of the pandemic,” Vyacheslav Volodin said, according to a Kremlin readout. 

"Of course, we are taking certain measures to keep the parliament working, but.. we have 91 deputies who have been ill or are sick today,” Volodin added.

The 450-member Duma partially shifted to remote work last month in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

In September, Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti that a Duma member from the communist party, 67-year old Vakha Agayev, had died from coronavirus complications.

9:21 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Trump adviser says White House coronavirus cases are "fairly benign"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner takes part in a television interview at the White House, on Monday, October 26.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner takes part in a television interview at the White House, on Monday, October 26. Alex Brandon/AP

Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner defended Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to continue campaigning despite his close contact with people who tested positive for coronavirus, suggesting West Wing cases have been mild and Pence is taking appropriate precautions because he has “great knowledge” about the pandemic as the leader of the task force.

“I think that you have people that can criticize in every regard and I spoke to Marc Short last night, he’s feeling fine. And again, you’ve got a lot of young, healthy people in the West Wing who know that they’re taking risks coming in to work for the American people. But, you know, just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean that we can stop,” he said during an appearance on Fox News. 

Kushner continued: “We’re taking precautions, wearing masks, you know, social distancing and washing hands, doing what they can to prevent it. But people do get it… For the people in the West Wing who have gotten it so far, it’s been fairly benign cases, you know, and obviously people are moving forward. And the Vice President obviously has great knowledge about the disease and the pandemic and he knows the right protocols to follow and I have every confidence that he's following those protocols.”

Kushner was also pressed on comments from chief of staff Mark Meadows that the US is not going to control the pandemic, but didn’t offer much of a defense.

“Look, you have a global pandemic. It’s impacting every place. People have tried different way to cope with that. You have that throughout Europe, you have that through the US. You know, you have places where they've been locked down and it’s spread you have places where it's been open and it's spread and I think that ultimately, we have to have a balanced approach but the job of the federal government has been to make sure that we get all the supplies to the people who have needed it,” he said, going on to discuss US personal protective equipment. 

He added, “Look, I think that when you saw the debate, the other side said this is a very dark winter. We definitely have some challenges but President Trump's approach is we're going to defeat the virus and we're gonna get our country back to a stronger place than ever before.”

8:14 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Trump official: "We’re not going to control the pandemic"

From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows responds to reporters questions outside the White House on Sunday, October 25, in Washington.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows responds to reporters questions outside the White House on Sunday, October 25, in Washington. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

It's being called the "great American surrender." On Sunday, President Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows admitted that the United States was "not going to control the pandemic," arguing in a stunning statement that "proper mitigation factors" like therapies and vaccines should be the priority, as new Covid-19 cases continue to spike.

But there is a problem with that logic. Even if a potential coronavirus vaccine is approved by regulators in the coming months, Americans won't be able to get it until well into next year. And letting the coronavirus rage unchecked in the interim, medical experts argue, is akin to a policy of herd immunity that would cost many thousands of lives.

Meadows' comments come as the White House contends with yet another coronavirus outbreak of its own. Vice President Mike Pence is refusing to accept CDC guidance on quarantining after his chief of staff and a 'body man' personal assistant were among five people in his orbit to test positive. The White House has declared Pence an "essential worker" -- a designation normally reserved for first responders and front-line medical staff -- so that he can continue campaigning.

It's the latest sign of the Trump team putting its own political priorities ahead of a duty of care to the American people as the country enters the final stretch before the election, Stephen Collinson writes. Despite a surge in cases in 35 states, the President is continuing his campaign blitz, criss-crossing the US in a frantic week of packed rallies that flout social distancing and mask-wearing measures.

Meanwhile, 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.

This appeared in the October 26 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.

Read the rest of today's newsletter here.


11:19 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Pfizer test experimental vaccine on 12-year-olds

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Pfizer’s experimental coronavirus vaccine is now being tested in the youngest age group yet -- kids as young as 12.

The move into younger children was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and institutional review boards earlier this month, but Pfizer broke up the groups of children into older teens age 16 and 17 and young children age 12 to 15.

A team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital finished vaccinating 100 children in the younger age group last week, said Dr. Robert Frenck, who is leading the trial for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital. Half the volunteers in this third and final phase of Pfizer's vaccine are getting a placebo, or dummy shot.

“Now we are pausing to watch for reactions to the vaccine. We right now are in a planned pause to make sure that everything is as safe as it can be,” Frenck told CNN.

Among the side effects doctors are watching for are lumps, redness or pain at the site of the injection, as well as fever or achiness.

Abhinav, 12, is one of the young volunteers. The seventh grader -- whose parents asked that only his first name be used to protect his privacy -- hopes that widespread vaccination will help make it safe for his grandparents to resume visits from India, and for classes to get back to normal at school.

“I think everyone at my school would like to get back to normal,” Abhinav told CNN. “I really think a vaccine could prevent the spread of the infection. As of now, I probably would request other kids to maybe take it.”

Frenck said people may be nervous about giving children an experimental vaccine but noted Pfizer’s has already been tested in tens of thousands of adults.

“The reason we can use this vaccine in children is that Pfizer has 30,000 adults who have been enrolled and it has safety data from all those people,” he said.

Plus, he said, it will be important to vaccinate children against coronavirus if there is to be any hope of controlling the pandemic. They are almost certainly contributing to silent spread of the virus.

“I think the important thing people need to remember is that while adolescents aren’t getting as sick as older adults are, it doesn’t mean that some kids aren’t getting sick and some kids aren’t dying,” Frenck said.

“We have had 120 kids in the US die from Covid so far.”


7:16 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Austria mulls second national lockdown as cases spike

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is pictured arriving for a press conference in Vienna, Austria, on October 19.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is pictured arriving for a press conference in Vienna, Austria, on October 19. Ronald Zak/AP

Austria is considering more restrictive coronavirus measuring including a second nationwide lockdown, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday following a steep rise in the country's daily coronavirus infection numbers.

"The higher the number of infections, the more restrictive measures are needed," said Kurz after the Council of Ministers met Monday on Austria's national holiday. 

"The ultimate measure is a second lockdown," he added.

"We are experiencing massive, exponential growth. This is an extreme challenge," Kurz said. "The situation is very, very serious, even for those who still don't want to believe it."

Kurz went on to say that the situation in hospitals will be decisive in determining if a second lockdown is needed. He added that the goal of increased restrictions is to prevent intensive care units from being overwhelmed. 

6:55 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

The US average of new daily cases is now at its highest point of the pandemic

From CNN's Matthew Hilk and Amanda Watts

Medical staff work at a Covid-19 testing site in Boston on October 22.
Medical staff work at a Covid-19 testing site in Boston on October 22. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The seven-day moving average of new daily Covid cases stood at 68,767 after Sunday -- a level not seen since the highest peak in late July, according to CNN's analysis of data by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Over the last seven days, the United States added 481,372 new cases -- the most the nation has added in a single week, according to JHU.

The period includes the two highest recorded single days for new cases, Friday and Saturday, which both eclipsed 80,000.

Sunday's number was lower -- 60,789 -- but represents the highest reported number for a Sunday since July 22. New case totals are routinely lower on Sundays and Mondays, reflecting slower reporting on weekends.

6:31 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

China is testing millions after one asymptomatic case found

From CNN's Nectar Gan

China has rolled out mass coronavirus testing for nearly 5 million people and imposed lockdown measures in the prefecture of Kashgar in the far western region of Xinjiang, after a single asymptomatic coronavirus case was reported on Saturday.

The testing drive has so far identified 137 additional cases -- and all are asymptomatic, according to Xinjiang's regional health commission. This is the highest daily number of asymptomatic Covid-19 cases reported in China in nearly seven months.

As of Sunday afternoon, some 2.8 million people have been tested. The government expects to finish testing all of Kashgar's 4.7 million population by Tuesday.

The outbreak is Xinjiang's second since China's initial wave of coronavirus infections was brought under control in March.

Read the full story here.

5:56 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Groundhog day in Wales as country enters second-wave lockdown

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla in Wales

A view of a quiet street in Cardiff, Wales, on Sunday, October 25.
A view of a quiet street in Cardiff, Wales, on Sunday, October 25. Ben Birchall/PA/AP

Like the groundhog that peeks out and then retreats until winter is over, Wales has been forced back underground by the shadow of the coronavirus.

Friday nights are usually heady and vibrant in the Welsh capital; its people are famous for being fiercely proud and incredibly hospitable.

Cardiff, then, is a good place to welcome the weekend.

At least, it was, until Friday, October 23, when Wales rolled back the clock to March 2020 to start a second national lockdown.

Read the full story here.

5:36 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Israel to reopen schools for some students

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem

Israel is set to reopen schools for grades 1-4 next week as coronavirus numbers across the country continue to fall. Classes will open under restrictions to prevent the resurgence of coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, including learning in limited “capsules,” with classes held on alternate days.

Health experts say the reopening of the school system after the first lockdown was one of the key factors in the rapid rise in cases over the summer.

Further discussions, focusing on the reopening of more businesses and transportation, are expected to take place Monday.

Israel recorded 559 new coronavirus cases Sunday and a positivity rate of 2.7%, dramatic improvements from the record 9,000 cases in one day less than a month ago.

But Netanyahu warned the public not to be complacent and threatened increased enforcement against anyone who violates the Ministry of Health restrictions.

“I believe that the fines must be increased and that determined action must be taken against whoever violates the directives, whether at weddings, institutions or events, or any other place that causes mass infection,” he said.