The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim, Vasco Cotovio, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:52 a.m. ET, October 31, 2020
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2:24 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Many counties that hosted Trump rallies had a significant increase in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Nadia Kounang

A CNN investigation of 17 Trump campaign rallies finds that 14 of the host counties -- 82% of them -- had an increased rate of new Covid-19 cases one month after the rally.

The 17 rallies occurred between August 17 and September 26. CNN evaluated the rate of new daily cases per 100,000 residents at four weeks before the rally, on the rally date, and four weeks after the rally at the county level and at the state level.

Of the 14 host counties that had increased infection rates, eight of the counties had declining rates of infection in the month before the rally. The other six counties already had increasing rates of infection in that preceding month.

CNN's analysis also found that in 10 counties, the new rates of infection were growing faster than the overall rate for the state.

Read more:

1:54 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Japan eases travel restrictions for China and 8 other locations

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong

Japan eased travel restrictions for China and eight other countries and regions on Friday, according to a news release from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Japan lowered its travel risk advisory level for China, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei and Vietnam from level 3 to level 2 after assessing the infection situation and movement restrictions in each location, along with business needs toward Japan’s economic recovery, according to the release.

The Foreign Ministry also raised the travel risk advisory level for Myanmar and Jordan from level 2 to level 3 on Friday.

The level 3 advisory means the public is advised to cancel any trips to those locations.

The level 2 advisory means the public is advised to avoid unnecessary, non-urgent trips.

1:26 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

US reports record high of more than 88,500 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Alta Spells

The United States reported 88,521 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University -- the highest single-day total since the pandemic began.

The previous daily high was 83,731 cases, reported on October 23.

An additional 971 virus-related fatalities were also confirmed on Thursday, according to JHU's tally.

The nationwide totals now stand at 8,944,934 cases and 228,656 deaths.

The 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:

1:05 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

China's most controlled region is facing the country's biggest coronavirus outbreak in months

From CNN's Ben Westcott and James Griffiths

Xinjiang, the heavily policed region of western China where the government has been accused of detaining more than a million Muslims, is facing a new coronavirus outbreak.

While the rest of the country is reporting only a handful of daily cases -- with most of those imported -- Xinjiang has this week recorded dozens of new infections. On Thursday, the region reported 14 new cases, taking its total active caseload to 197, according to China's National Health Commission.

It's the country's biggest coronavirus cluster since more than 180 infections were reported in the capital Beijing in June. And it has raised eyebrows, given the heavy surveillance and security prevalent in the region, and the drastic response the government enacted earlier this year.

During China's initial outbreak, Xinjiang was subjected to strict lockdown measures on par with those imposed in the city of Wuhan -- the original epicenter of the virus -- despite having reported only some 70 cases and three deaths. When the regional capital Urumqi suffered an outbreak in July, authorities launched a strict lockdown, canceling flights, inspecting markets and restaurants, and testing residents.

Allegations of abuse: On Thursday, Xinjiang officials said the factory at the heart of the latest outbreak employed 252 workers and produces leisure and sportswear, which they added was set up as part of a plan to "help villagers find jobs and increase their income."

Factories and businesses based in Xinjiang have faced allegations of forced labor and poor conditions in the past. Last month, the United States issued new import restrictions against Chinese companies it accuses of using slave labor, including products from suspected mass prison camps in the region.

Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on the Chinese government's policies in Xinjiang, said the factory at the heart of the latest outbreak was emblematic of those used for "coercive labor training," a purported poverty alleviation program targeting "so-called rural surplus laborers."

Read the full story:

12:41 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Taiwan just went 200 days without a locally transmitted case. Here's how they did it

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger

As much of the world struggles to contain new waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan just marked its 200th consecutive day without a locally transmitted case of the disease.

Taipei's response to the pandemic has been one of the world's most effective. The island of 23 million people last reported a locally transmitted case on April 12. As of Thursday, it had confirmed 553 cases -- only 55 of which were local transmissions -- and seven deaths.

Taiwan has never had to enact strict lockdowns like Europe, nor did it resort to drastic restrictions on civil freedoms like in mainland China. So how did they do it?

  • They acted immediately: Authorities had begun screening passengers from Wuhan, where the virus was first identified, by December 31, 2019. By mid-January, they had banned visitors from Wuhan and implemented wider screening for visitors. By March, nearly all foreign nationals were banned from entering.
  • Their geography helps: Taiwan is an island, so it's easier for officials to control entry and exit through its borders.
  • They have experience: After suffering through the deadly outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, Taiwan worked to build up its capacity to deal with a pandemic, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an interview last month.
  • They invested in health infrastructure: After SARS, authorities set up a Central Epidemic Command Center to coordinate between different ministries. The government also invested in mass testing and quick and effective contact tracing.

Read the full story:

12:02 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Japan tops 100,000 coronavirus cases with daily infections at a 2-month high

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong

Japan has surpassed 100,000 total Covid-19 cases, the country's Health Ministry announced on Friday, as the number of daily infections hit a two-month high. 

The country recorded 808 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 100,334. This is the first time that Japan has registered more than 800 daily new infections since August 29. 

The new infections are edging up in northern prefectures such as Hokkaido and Aomori. Some 221 of the new cases were from the capital Tokyo, raising the city's total to 30,677.

CNN is tracking worldwide cases:

11:01 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Europe at the "epicenter" of Covid-19 pandemic again, WHO says

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood in London

The number of coronavirus cases in Europe has exceeded the 10 million mark since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 1.5 million cases confirmed last week alone, the World Health Organization’s Europe director Dr. Hans Kluge said Thursday. 

“Europe is at the epicenter of this pandemic once again,” Kluge said at a meeting alongside European health ministers.

“At the risk of sounding alarmist, I must express our very real concern and convey our steadfast commitment to stand beside you and support you as best we can.”

The situation in Europe: Kluge warned that hospitalizations have risen to “levels unseen since the spring,” with cases moving from 7 million to 9 million in the past two weeks and deaths rising by 32% across the region last week.

Testing systems have not kept up with “very high-speed transmission,” and test positivity rates have reached new highs in most European countries. 

Return to lockdown: As Europe is well into its second wave, many countries are implementing new restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

With France introducing a national lockdown from Friday, Kluge said lockdowns were a “last resort option” because they bypass the “still-existing possibility of engaging everyone in basic and effective measures.”

10:47 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Mnuchin and Pelosi clash as coronavirus relief talks falter

From CNN's Haley Byrd

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the two top negotiators for a new round of coronavirus relief, are engaged in open warfare after weeks of private negotiations -- casting new doubt on whether they will be able to reach agreement on stimulus legislation even after the November election.

On Thursday afternoon, Mnuchin slammed Pelosi in their highest-profile clash so far, saying the speaker is refusing to compromise to get much-needed aid to Americans. 

“Your ALL OR NONE approach is hurting hard-working Americans who need help NOW,” Mnuchin wrote in a letter.

His remarks came after Pelosi sent her own letter to Mnuchin earlier Thursday that emphasized just how divided the two sides remain on the details of a potential stimulus bill, and hit the Trump administration for not accepting Democratic demands on key issues.

"The American people are suffering, and they want us to come to an agreement to save lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy as soon as possible," Pelosi wrote.

Mnuchin said he first learned of Pelosi’s letter from media reports Thursday morning, and he “can unfortunately only conclude that it is a political stunt.”

What this means for the bill: The confrontation between the two is inauspicious for the odds of a new stimulus bill. When everyone else had essentially given up on the idea of another round of coronavirus relief over the summer, Pelosi and Mnuchin continued to have phone calls to negotiate and work towards a deal. 

With Democratic leaders standing firmly behind their call for a massive aid package and Republican lawmakers instead advocating for a much smaller, targeted bill, an agreement never really appeared imminent.

But Pelosi and Mnuchin continued to insist progress was being made -- and sometimes, it was. Both had previously expressed hope that a deal could be finalized before Election Day, but talks have faltered in recent days.

At a news conference earlier in the day, Pelosi said the talks were not over. She indicated she is eyeing the congressional lame duck session after the election as an opportunity for lawmakers to approve new aid.

11:49 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

New model anticipates 399,000 total coronavirus-related deaths in the US by Feb. 1

From CNN's Maggie Fox

An influential model of the coronavirus pandemic has predicted 399,000 total coronavirus deaths in the US by Feb. 1, a 15,000-death increase over last week’s prediction.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine said it’s most likely that by the middle of January, 2,250 Americans will be dying every day from coronavirus -- three times more than the current rate.

“If states do not react to rising numbers by re-imposing mandates, cumulative deaths could reach 514,000 by the same date,” the IHME said in its latest forecast. “The fall/winter surge should lead to a daily death toll that is approximately three times higher than now by mid-January. Hospital systems, particularly ICUs, are expected to be under extreme stress in December and January in 18 states.”

The IHME said if states would require mask use or find other ways to encourage more people to use them, fewer people would die.

“Scaling up mask wearing can delay the need for further social distancing mandates and save 62,000 lives by February 1,” it said.

Some context: Just last week, the IHME projected 385,000 deaths by Feb. 1.

Cases and deaths have skyrocketed across the US in recent days and Thursday saw the highest single Covid-19 case count on record in the US, with cases passing 88,219 before 11:45 p.m. ET.