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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8:33 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Trump event in Wisconsin is “mind-boggling” as cases soar, doctor says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Paul Casey, emergency department medical director at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin, said it’s “mind-boggling” that President Trump is holding a campaign event today in the city as Covid-19 cases skyrocket in the state.

“On Tuesday, we had over 5,200 patients test positive. So what that means is 7 to 10 days down the road, somewhere between 4 and 6% of those patients will need to be in the hospital. That's from a single day. We don't see those numbers slowing down,” Casey said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“We're seeing a steady stream of patients needing to be admitted to the hospital. So far, we've been able to keep up, but that is more than likely going to change fairly quickly,” he added.

Amid soaring cases, Trump is set to hold a campaign event in Green Bay today, which Casey said “simply boggles my mind.” 

“Any time we see a mass gathering of any kind, whether it be a wedding, a funeral, a large gathering in a bar, it is very, very concerning. And it's particularly mind-boggling when we have leadership setting a bad example,” he said. 

Casey said there is an entire ward in his hospital set aside for coronavirus patients right now. 

“20% of our hospital capacity is currently filled with Covid patients. And in my 34-year career, that's unprecedented. I have never, ever seen a time where we had a single ward devoted to a single disease. … It takes back memories of the foregone times when we saw things like smallpox, that kind of thing, where we had a single disease overrunning the hospital,” he said. 

Nurses are working 12-hour shifts and are exhausted, Casey said. 

“It's also extremely hard to see patients without family members in the last days of their life, having to comfort them. It takes a human toll on the nursing staff,” he said. 

WATCH:

8:11 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Already, pharmaceutical companies' predictions about Covid-19 vaccines haven't come true

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A health care worker holds an injection syringe of the coronavirus phase 3 vaccine trial developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, at the Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital in Ankara, Turkey on October 27.
A health care worker holds an injection syringe of the coronavirus phase 3 vaccine trial developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, at the Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital in Ankara, Turkey on October 27. Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Over the past six months pharmaceutical companies have made various predictions about their Covid-19 vaccine timelines that have turned out not to be true.

In one recent example, Pfizer has said repeatedly it would know by the end of October if its vaccine works or not – but Tuesday on an investor call, the company’s CEO essentially ruled that out. 

Scientists say that should guide us as we move closer to having a vaccine: Don’t believe everything you hear, because testing and manufacturing vaccines are notoriously unpredictable.    

“Unexpected things happen all the time in vaccine development,” said Dr. Nelson Michael, an Army vaccine specialist who has worked on more than 20 vaccine clinical trials. 
“There are tons of twists and turns, and it’s important to understand that.”   

In May, University of Oxford researchers predicted they would have data from their clinical trials by September at the latest, but that did not happen. Their clinical trial is still underway. 

While at times Pfizer, Oxford and other vaccine developers have couched their statements, at other times, they have been more definitive about their timelines. 

There are 45 candidate vaccines currently at the clinical evaluation stage of development and 156 in preclinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organization.

7:58 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Czech teenagers deployed to overwhelmed hospitals as Covid cases explode

From CNN's Scott McLean and Tomas Etzler

"We help with hygiene, sometimes we draw blood, we do..." mid-sentence, Barbara Sásová looks over for help finding the right English word to describe her duties. "Sanitary work," she says, nervously giggling. At just 18 years old, she's a nurses' assistant at a hospital in Kyjov, a small town in eastern Czech Republic less than half an hour from the Slovakian border.

The teenager attends a healthcare-focused high school nearby, but with schools shut down across the country to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, she's been catapulted into the adult world, inside a hospital where she is badly needed. Some of her colleagues are only 16, unable to vote, or even drive.

I think it is our duty because we are the future of health workers," Sásová said.

"The situation is very serious. The Czech health system never faced such a challenge before," said Dr. Milan Kubek, president of the Czech Medical Chamber.

As of October 28, according to Kubek, 15,433 health care workers have been sidelined with the virus; almost 3,000 of them are doctors. Most are catching the virus not at work, but on the streets, or from friends or relatives, Kubek believes.

The numbers are so high that Czech hospitals are limping along with vital help from volunteers -- who get bonus points for having medical experience -- but beggars can't be choosers.

Read more:

7:52 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Thirty US states have seen record Covid-19 cases in October

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Maine reported its highest single day increase of new cases on Thursday, making it the 30th US state to do so in October.

The other states include nearby New Hampshire and Rhode Island, as well as Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. 

Last week Maine reported an outbreak of 49 cases which were linked to a fellowship event at a church in the small town of Brooks.

Daily cases nationally also reached a record high on Thursday, with 88,521 reported according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

In total, there have been 8,944,934 cases and at least 228,656 deaths in the US, according to JHU.

7:45 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

US scientists test animals including cats, dogs and dolphins for Covid-19

From JoNel Aleccia

As Covid-19 cases surge in the US, one Texas veterinarian has been quietly tracking the spread of the disease — not in people, but in their pets.

Since June, Sarah Hamer and her team at Texas A&M University have tested hundreds of animals from area households where humans contracted Covid-19. They've swabbed dogs and cats, but also pet hamsters and guinea pigs, looking for signs of infection.

"We're open to all of it," said Hamer, a professor of epidemiology, who has found at least 19 cases of infection.

One pet that tested positive was Phoenix, a 7-year-old part-Siamese cat owned by Kaitlyn Romoser, who works in a university lab. Romoser, 23, was confirmed to have Covid-19 twice, once in March and again in September. The second time she was much sicker, she said, and Phoenix was her constant companion.

If I would have known animals were just getting it everywhere, I would have tried to distance myself, but he will not distance himself from me," Romoser said.

"He sleeps in my bed with me. There was absolutely no social distancing."

Read more:

8:15 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Traffic chaos in Paris before national lockdown came into force

From Fanny Bobille in Paris

Traffic is seen on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on October 29.
Traffic is seen on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on October 29. Nathan Laine/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Authorities in Paris estimate there were traffic jams with a combined total length of 730 kilometres (454 miles) on Thursday evening, ahead of new Covid-19 travel restrictions.

“Even though this is not the highest traffic jam recorded, this is still a very important data,” the press office for the Paris region traffic authority told CNN. 

Thursday was the last day before the whole country went into a national lockdown, and also one of the last few days for people to return to their homes after France’s school half-term, which ends after the All Saints’ holiday this weekend.

“At the moment, it is impossible to tell for sure the traffic jam was a consequence of the lockdown or the return of holidays,” the press office said. “The traffic jam was in both ways, from the Province to Paris, and from Paris to the Province, it is too early to confirm Parisian people are fleeing the capital.”

More information is expected to be known later on Friday once the data has been analyzed.

Despite the heavy restrictions on travel that came into place at midnight on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron assured French citizens that people will be allowed by the authorities to return to their homes by Sunday evening.

7:11 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

EU to fund transfer of Covid-19 patients across borders

From CNN's Angela Dewan and Simon Cullen

The European Union has earmarked 220 million euros ($257 million) to fund the transfer of Covid-19 patients across its borders to prevent the hospital systems in the 27-nation bloc from buckling.

Europe has become the world's epicenter of the virus for the second time since the pandemic began, forcing several countries to reimpose national lockdowns as a second wave envelops the region and infection cases surpass 10 million.

"Numbers of cases are rising, numbers of hospitalizations are rising, numbers of deaths are rising -- not as fast, fortunately, because we understand better today how to treat COVID patients and how to deal with disease," EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday night.
"But the spread of the virus will overwhelm our healthcare systems if we do not act urgently."

Read the full story:

8:22 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Belgium in "absolutely critical" situation, reports record number of Covid-19 hospital admissions

From CNN's James Frater in London

Medical staff members treat patients in the Covid-19 unit at a hospital in Liege, Belgium, on October 29.
Medical staff members treat patients in the Covid-19 unit at a hospital in Liege, Belgium, on October 29. Benoit Doppagne/BELGA/AFP/Getty IImages

Belgium reported a record number of daily hospital admissions for Covid-19 on Thursday, according to the country’s health authority.

The Belgian Health Authority said 6,187 patients were admitted on Thursday, while 1,057 people are currently in intensive care. Belgium recorded a peak of 1,285 intensive care patients at the height of its first Covid-19 wave in April.

The head of Zorgnet-Icuro -- a network of 775 hospitals, care homes and health facilities across the country -- told CNN that the situation was now "absolutely critical."

In the last two weeks an average of 484 people have been hospitalized daily in the country.

"There is absolutely no time to lose to prevent a total crash of our health care system,” Zorgnet-Icuro CEO Margot Cloet told CNN Friday. “The united Belgian hospitals plead very strongly for a reinforced lockdown."

Probably within a week, we will reach the maximum capacity of intensive care beds." 

And it's not just beds Belgium is running short of, it's health workers as well.

Liege, the country's third largest city, has the highest incidence rate in Belgium and health workers in some of its hospitals have been asked to continue working even if they test positive for Covid-19 -- as long as they are not showing any symptoms of the disease.

The communications director of Liege University Hospital, Louis Maraite, told CNN on Tuesday that because of staff shortages, the hospital had "no choice" but to ask nurses who tested positive with no symptoms to work on a voluntary basis.

Maraite estimated that 5% to 10% of nurses at the hospital were currently infected with Covid-19, but most of them are off work, at home.

Read the full story:

5:37 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

9.9 million Americans are not up-to-date on their rent or mortgage payments

From CNN's Lauren Lee

The economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has created widespread housing insecurity for renters, homeowners and the homeless population in the United States.

By the end of October, 9.9 million Americans were not up-to-date on their rent or mortgage payments and had little to no confidence that their household could pay next month's rent or mortgage on time, according to the US Census Household Pulse Survey.

"To be able to understand the eviction crisis that we're facing today, we have to recognize where we were before Covid-19 came to our country -- and that was in the midst of a severe affordable housing crisis," said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

According to the NLIHC, the US has a shortage of 7 million affordable rental homes available to low-income renters.

Coupled with the long-term homeless crisis, many Americans are now scrambling to figure out how to obtain or sustain a place they call home under the economic toll Covid-19 has had on families and individuals across the country.

CNN has gathered some resources for those facing housing insecurity or homelessness: