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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2:41 p.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Herd immunity would entail "so much suffering and death," Fauci says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

Reaching natural herd immunity in the United states would mean “so much suffering and death in the country, it would be unacceptable,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told SirusXM’s Doctor Radio Reports on Friday.

“We only have 10% or a little bit more of the population that has already been infected, and we have 225,000 deaths,” Fauci said. “If you want to get to a 75% protection, just multiply that and you see how many deaths you have to have to have herd immunity through natural infection.” 

“What you need is a combination of a heavy, heavy element of vaccine-induced protection, together with the protection that those who unfortunately have already been infected have,” Fauci said. “That’s the reason why a vaccine is so important in a much safer approach towards herd immunity.”

Fauci also discussed the importance of “equitable” vaccine distribution.

“Obviously the first ones are going to be health care providers, but then also we're going to have people who are frontline essential workers, and then those who are vulnerable – people with underlying conditions,” Fauci said.

“We know from painful experience with this pandemic that our minority populations, our Latinx and our African Americans, are especially vulnerable because of the prevalence of their underlying conditions,” he said. “You’ve got to access them and get them to be vaccinated, when we get a safe and effective vaccine.”

 

2:54 p.m. ET, October 30, 2020

MLS club halts all in-person activities following third player testing positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Cesar Marin

General view of the Banc of California Stadium before the game between the Los Angeles Football Club and the Houston Dynamo on October 28 in Los Angeles, California.
General view of the Banc of California Stadium before the game between the Los Angeles Football Club and the Houston Dynamo on October 28 in Los Angeles, California. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Football Club revealed on Friday two additional players have tested positive for Covid-19. LAFC now has three players who have tested positive for the virus.

In a Friday statement, the team said the two additional positive tests followed the club’s win over the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, a victory that assured LAFC a spot in the MLS playoffs. 

For precautionary reasons, the club has canceled all in-person activities until further notice.

All three players are self-isolating and are being treated by the team’s medical staff.

Covid-19 had disrupted the MLS season as multiple teams will not be able to play the full 23 games as scheduled. For this reason, qualification for the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs will be determined by points-per-game rather than regular season standings.

12:10 p.m. ET, October 30, 2020

New York City cases trending down heading into Halloween, mayor says

From CNN’s Jonathan Kubiak

A woman wearing a mask looks up at an Upper West Side home decorated for Halloween on October 28 in New York City.
A woman wearing a mask looks up at an Upper West Side home decorated for Halloween on October 28 in New York City. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the city’s daily Covid-19 case count is better than it was the day prior.

There were 68 new hospital admissions, down from 81 the day before and of these admissions, there was a positivity rate of 18.9% compared to 26% on the prior day. 

New York City also has 514 new cases, down from 532 reported Thursday. This represents a 1.75% overall positivity rate, which is down from what de Blasio called a “striking” figure of 2.7% positive yesterday.

As there is some variation to be expected from day-to-day case counts, the mayor emphasized the importance of the seven-day rolling average in determining spread. This seven-day rate is currently at 1.87%.

Speaking on "The Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC, de Blasio said that stopping a second wave will “take a lot of discipline and recognizing that we cannot do a lot of the things that we would like to do in the short term but we have to hold the line."

The mayor warned against indoor gatherings for Halloween, urging New Yorkers to wear masks over costumes, stay in small groups, and socially distance during holiday festivities.

11:53 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

FDA in “early stages” of considering whether to use expanded access to distribute potential Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The US Food and Drug Administration is in the "early stages" of looking into whether expanded access — a regulatory pathway typically used for investigational drugs — could be used as a way to make a potential Covid-19 vaccine available to the public, an FDA official said on Friday.

"We're still in early stages of considering whether this would be an appropriate mechanism," Dr. Doran Fink, deputy director of the FDA's division of vaccine and related products applications, said during a virtual meeting of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Friday.

Among the regulatory pathways for making a potential Covid-19 vaccine available, emergency use authorization has been the most discussed so far.

"Emergency use authorization is one of those mechanisms and is dependent upon declaration of a public health emergency, which is the situation we're currently in with Covid-19. Expanded access does not require the declaration of a public health emergency but it does have additional requirements for use," Fink said on Friday. "Expanded access is not an approval process."

Some background: If expanded access were to be considered for a potential Covid-19 vaccine, the vaccine manufacturer would need to have an active "investigational new drug" application on file with the FDA. Then the manufacturer would need to "submit a protocol for use of the vaccine under expanded access regulations and would work potentially with public government agencies" to organize and implement the expanded access protocol, Fink said.

Expanded access has been used before for vaccines, Fink added, just not on the massive scale that would be needed for a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

"We do have recent examples of expanded access treatment protocols that have been used to provide vaccine to thousands of individuals or tens of thousands of individuals," Fink said. "One example was to address meningococcal B disease outbreak on several college campuses prior to FDA licensure of meningococcal vaccines, and then more recently, there's been an expanded access protocol for use of non-US-licensed yellow fever vaccine."

9:58 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

White House official says Election Day is an "arbitrary deadline" for Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Alison Main and Joe Johns

Alyssa Farah, White House strategic communications director, speaks to the press in Washington, DC, on October 30.
Alyssa Farah, White House strategic communications director, speaks to the press in Washington, DC, on October 30. Pool

Just days before Election Day, White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah called Nov. 3 an "arbitrary deadline" for a coronavirus vaccine, despite President Trump pushing for a pre-election development for months.

"We're still highly confident we'll have one by the end of the year and be prepared to deploy it to 100 million Americans, so I mean his goal has never...Election Day is kind of an arbitrary deadline, Americans are still suffering from this virus. The sooner we can get it the better and that's his goal," Farah told CNN's Joe Johns on Friday.

Asked by CNN about the 250-person limit at the President’s rally today in Rochester, Minnesota, due to guidance from the Minnesota Health Department, Farah declined to speak on behalf of the campaign and said she was not involved in planning.

 

8:35 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020

Monaco will introduce a curfew to curb spread of Covid-19

From Barbara Wojazer in Paris and Sharon Braithwaite in London

Social distancing messages are pictured at the Casino de Monte-Carlo on June 4, in Monaco.
Social distancing messages are pictured at the Casino de Monte-Carlo on June 4, in Monaco. Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

The city-state of Monaco will introduce a 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time curfew to control spread of Covid-19 starting midnight on Saturday. The curfew will run for at least a month.

Prince Albert II of Monaco announced the new measures in a televised address on Thursday evening.

"While the evolution of the number of cases and patients hospitalized is not as dramatic in Monaco as in its surroundings, the current situation demands a reinforcement of the measures implemented to fight the progression of the epidemic," Prince Albert II said.

Businesses and shops “will remain open with a certain number of arrangements” and “remote work will be encouraged in the public and private sectors,” he said adding that schools and universities will remain open whilst respecting social distancing measures.

“As you can see, the option we decided upon is not the lockdown. I’m counting on your discipline and sense of public interest to respect the measures that will be detailed by my government tomorrow (Friday), to avoid having to further strengthen these measures.”

The announcement comes after the principality reported 10 new positive cases and eight recoveries on Thursday, according to a government tweet

Some background: Monaco is located on the French riviera, in Western Europe. Despite its independence, it has close economic ties with neighbor France, which started a four-week lockdown this Friday.

The move in France, in response to spiraling coronavirus case numbers, was announced by President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, just hours after German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared a similar four-week nationwide lockdown in her own country.

Read more about the French and German lockdowns:

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: