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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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:

9:55 p.m. ET, October 25, 2020

US should consider national mask mandate for the winter, former USDA commissioner writes in op-ed

From CNN's  Amir Vera, Madeline Holcombe, Christina Maxouris and Ray Sanchez

As the US reports its second-highest day of new Covid-19 cases amid the continuing fall surge, a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration says 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."

"A mandate can be expressly limited to the next two months," Gottlieb wrote, adding that it's easier to wear a mask in the winter than the summer. "The inconvenience would allow the country to preserve health-care capacity and keep more schools and businesses open."

With deaths expected to rise this winter, policymakers will have to make moves to slow the spread, Gottlieb wrote. There already is no support for reinstating the stay-at-home orders from the spring.

If 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved in the United States through February, according to data released Friday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

"If people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Erin Burnett on Friday.

Read the full story:

10:36 p.m. ET, October 25, 2020

France reports highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases with more than 52,000 infections

From CNN’s Pierre Bairin in Paris

France recorded 52,010 cases of Covid-19 over the past 24 hours on Sunday, according to the French Health Authority -- its highest daily increase.

Sunday is the fourth consecutive day that France has reported its highest daily caseload.

The country's positivity rate is now at 17%, according to the health ministry. That's more than double the positivity rate of the United States.

As of Saturday, almost half of all beds in intensive care units (ICU) were occupied by Covid-19 patients. In the Paris region, that occupancy rate rose to 64%.

Also from Saturday, 54 of France’s 101 administrative areas are now under a nighttime curfew that requires people to be indoors from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. The curfew, which affects 46 million people, is in effect until early December.  

10:12 p.m. ET, October 25, 2020

Spain's Prime Minister seeks to keep new state of emergency in place until May

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he will ask parliamentary groups to support extending a new state of emergency announced Sunday until May 9 in an effort to curb soaring coronavirus infections.

"The battle is going to be tough, but with social discipline, with resistance, with unity and with a spirit of victory, we are going to win it again," he said. 

Under the new state of emergency, there will be a curfew for all regions, except the Canary Islands, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time that will go into effect Sunday night. Local authorities would be able adjust the start and end times by an hour. 

Local authorities will also be able to restrict travel between regions and limit public gatherings to six people, Sanchez said. 

"The reality is that Europe and Spain are fully immersed in the second wave of the pandemic," he said. "The situation we live in is extreme."

Spain has one of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases in the world, with 1,046,132 cases and 34,752 deaths as of Sunday, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. 

10:59 p.m. ET, October 25, 2020

Italy's daily Covid-19 cases are the highest ever but PM says country can "not afford a second lockdown"

From CNN’s Livia Borghese in Rome 

Coronavirus cases in Italy rose by 21,273 on Sunday, according to Health Ministry figures, a new daily high for the country since the start of the pandemic.

A total of more than 525,000 cases have now been confirmed in the country.

On Sunday, a further 128 people died from the virus, bringing Italy's total death toll to 37,338.

There are now 1,208 people with Covid-19 in Italy's intensive care units.

The new figures come as Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte acknowledged during a news conference announcing new restrictions that the “epidemic curve is rapidly increasing” in Italy.

But Conte said he wanted to avoid a nationwide lockdown like the one he imposed in March, because “the country could not afford it."

Italy imposes new measures: New coronavirus restrictions are set to come into force in Italy on Monday.

Unlike the country’s national lockdown in March, not all economic and production activities are obliged to close under the new decree.

The main restrictions concern bars and restaurants and other food services. They must close at 6 p.m. local time and have no more than four customers per table. Gyms, swimming pools, theaters, cinemas, concert halls, bingo halls, casinos and beauty centers all must close.

Kindergartens and primary schools will stay open but to avoid overcrowded public transport, high schools must hold 75% of lessons remotely.

“We believe that during the next month (November) we will suffer a bit, but gritting our teeth and facing these restrictions, in December we will breathe again” Conte said.