The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Lauren Kent, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright and Hira Humayun, CNN

Updated 12:19 a.m. ET, November 6, 2020
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8:33 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Louisiana extends its statewide mask mandate

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, speaks during a press conference on November 5.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, speaks during a press conference on November 5. From John Bel Edwards/Facebook

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) announced Thursday that he will be signing a new executive order keeping Louisiana in Phase 3, with the same Covid-19 mitigation measures in place, including the statewide mask mandate. The order will be in place for 28 days, until December 4, the Governor said.

Louisiana reported 740 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday for a total of 185,825 cases in the state and 20 additional Covid-19 related deaths, for a total of 5,766 deaths, the Governor said.

I’m waiting for that day, anxiously awaiting the day, when I can come up and say we’ve registered zero deaths in the previous 24 hours - that day hasn't happened," Edwards said.

The Governor said while Louisiana currently has the 44th highest rate of Covid-19 cases in the country, “it is not because we have improved our standing -- it's because of deterioration of other states’ standing and the increase in cases that they’ve had elsewhere.”

The state’s concerns include an increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations, with 636 hospitalizations reported Thursday, the most since September 18, according to Edwards.

Both the Governor and Louisiana’s interim assistant secretary of the Office of Public Health, Dr. Joseph Kanter, said many recent outbreaks in the state have been coming from small gatherings of people “letting their guards down.”

6:44 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Air Force-Army football game called off due to Covid-19

Falcon Stadium is seen on October 31 at Air Force Academy, Colorado.
Falcon Stadium is seen on October 31 at Air Force Academy, Colorado. David Zalubowski/AP

The US Air Force Academy has announced their football game at Army, scheduled for this Saturday, has been postponed due to Covid-19 cases at the Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The school issued statement cited "upward trends" of coronavirus cases on campus and "in the surrounding community" as reasons to call off the contest.

No make-up date was announced as the two service academies try to reschedule the game. 

"We are disappointed to postpone this game, but the health and safety of our cadets, staff and the community continues to be our No. 1 priority at the Academy," Air Force Director of Athletics Nathan Pine said. "Due to the upward trends in our Covid numbers across the campus, we have paused all intercollegiate team activities."

Earlier on Thursday, Navy announced the postponement of their Saturday game against Tulsa due to positive Covid-19 cases at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

6:03 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Colorado and Utah see highest number of daily Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Gisela Crespo and Claudia Dominguez

A Salt Lake County Health Department public health nurse performs a coronavirus test outside the Salt Lake County Health Department on November 3 in Salt Lake City.
A Salt Lake County Health Department public health nurse performs a coronavirus test outside the Salt Lake County Health Department on November 3 in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer/AP

Colorado reported 3,369 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest daily count since the pandemic began, Governor Jared Polis said during a news conference.

The state also reported the highest number of hospitalizations, with 894 patients currently in the hospital for the virus.

"We have now surpassed the hospitalization level we had in March and April and we need to do better, getting back to what we know works. You know it, I know it, we just need to do it," Polis said.

The governor urged Coloradans to wear masks and avoid gatherings with people outside of their households.

According to the governor, Colorado has reported 121,000 coronavirus cases to date and 2,158 total deaths.

Utah also reported its largest single daily increase in new Covid-19 cases with 2,807 new cases on Thursday according to Utah State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) said the report was “grim news and it’s discouraging” and that Utahns would see higher numbers in the upcoming days and weeks, warning that “we'll continue to see this dramatic increase, unless we modify and change our behavior.”

When asked if he would consider closing businesses to curb the spread, Herbert said, “We don't want to close down the economy… we think that's maybe the wrong direction to go. Maybe some modifications of behavior that need to take place to keep those businesses open.”

Utah has a total of 124,292 confirmed coronavirus cases and 632 deaths according to Utah’s Department of Health.

As more states see record-high numbers of daily Covid-19 cases, the United States reported its highest number of new coronavirus infections in a single day -- 102,831 on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The state-level numbers were released by the Colorado governor’s office and Utah Department of Health respectively and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN's database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project

6:01 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

CDC’s ensemble forecast projects up to 266,000 US Covid-19 deaths by November 28

From CNN Health’s Ben Tinker

An ensemble forecast published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now projects there will be 250,000 to 266,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by November 28.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published October 29, projected up to 256,000 coronavirus deaths by November 21.

At least 234,300 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Track Covid-19 cases in the US here:

5:40 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

French Health Minister says second wave of Covid-19 is "brutal"

From Barbara Wojazer

French Health Minister Olivier Veran speaks during his weekly press conference on the Covid-19 pandemic in Paris on November 5.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran speaks during his weekly press conference on the Covid-19 pandemic in Paris on November 5. Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

The second wave of coronavirus is already severely hitting France, the country’s Health Minister Olivier Véran warned Thursday.

“The second wave is already upon us, and it is brutal,” Véran told journalists at a press conference.

France surpassed another record on Thursday, with 58,046 new cases of the virus registered in 24 hours, according to numbers published by the National Health Agency.

France is “the European country that has the highest number of cases: 1.6 million,” the Director of the Health Agency Jérôme Salomon said during the same press conference.

If the virus keeps spreading at this rate, “the second wave could be worse and longer” than the first wave, Véran said, adding that it could take “until mid-December” to stabilize.

The Health Minister urged French people to respect lockdown measures, otherwise “we will see, as early as mid-November, a high risk of saturation” of hospitals.

The number of patients hospitalized for coronavirus has increased by 892 in 24 hours, for a total of 28,403 on Thursday, according to health agency numbers and 4,221 coronavirus patients are in intensive care units.

The coronavirus death toll in France currently stands at 39,037 according to the health agency.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said France accounted for the third-highest number of new cases globally. "With more than 275,000 cases reported in the past week (4,200 cases per million population): that is a 27% increase from the previous week," WHO said Tuesday.

5:05 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Minks appear to be ‘reservoir’ for coronavirus, WHO official says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Simon Cullen

Minks are seen at a farm in Gjol, Denmark on October 9.
Minks are seen at a farm in Gjol, Denmark on October 9. Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

A World Health Organization (WHO) official has praised Denmark’s decision to cull the country’s herd of mink, saying the animals appear to be a good reservoir for coronavirus and have infected people with a mutated strain.

“It seems that mink are susceptible to the virus and quite good at becoming a reservoir for the virus,” Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe said Thursday. 

“So there is a risk of course that this mink population could contribute in some way to the transmission of the virus from minks into humans and onwards from humans to humans.”

She said the transmission of Covid-19 from humans to animals and back to humans is not new. However, she said Danish researchers had tracked mutations of the virus in the mink.

“We're of course very interested in this specific variant and then the genetic changes that are being reported, and we need to understand more about it but it doesn't change right now what's going on, epidemiologically.”

On Wednesday, the Danish Prime Minister announced the findings of the research and that all mink would be culled. 

WHO European regional director Hans Kluge on Thursday described the decision as “commendable,” especially given the economic impact it will have.

3:45 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Pfizer opts out of US government distribution of Covid-19 vaccine 

From CNN Health’s Kevin Finnegan

A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on September 9.
A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on September 9. Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pfizer will not use the government’s vaccine distribution partner, McKesson, to distribute its Covid-19 vaccine in the US if it is authorized, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Instead, it will use its own distribution system to deliver the vaccine directly to health care providers.

Once the vaccine is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the company plans on shipping out 7.6 million doses per day from its facilities in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Puurs, Belgium. 

Distribution will be challenging because the Pfizer vaccine must be kept at a temperature of negative 103 Fahrenheit while being stored. Pfizer has designed shipping containers roughly the size of a suitcase that can maintain that temperature for up to 10 days.

Pfizer says its distribution plan was approved by the US government and is built on what the company calls a “flexible just in time system which will ship the frozen vials directly from our plants to the point of vaccination.” 

In a statement provided to CNN, the company reported that for the US market, “our distribution will be direct from Kalamazoo to point-of-use (POU), or our distribution center at Pleasant Prairie, WI to the points of vaccination or equivalent location. We continue to work very closely with the US Government on ensuring an effective distribution model.”

4:29 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Speaker Pelosi moves to expand COVID testing on Capitol Hill

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks to media at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill on November 3 in Washington, DC.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks to media at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill on November 3 in Washington, DC. Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

House Speaker Pelosi told members of her leadership team on Thursday that she will expand Covid-19 testing in the House.

According to a Senior Democratic aide, the United States Air Force will provide up to 2,000 high-quality tests per week for the entire Congress at no cost for the next six weeks.

The turn-around time on the tests is 6 to 12 hours. A requirement of this option is that if the traveler receives a positive test, the attending physician will perform an additional test to confirm the results. 

A longer-term solution is being explored.

3:04 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

People who tested positive for Covid-19 were more likely to report going to a workplace, rather than teleworking, study says 

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Employed adults who tested positive for Covid-19 were almost twice as likely to report regularly going to a workplace than those who tested negative, underscoring the importance of teleworking and workplace safety measures, according to research published Thursday in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

A CDC-led team looked at 314 US adults; 153 were symptomatic and had positive Covid-19 PCR tests and 161 were symptomatic people with negative test results. The participants were identified in outpatient health care facilities in July 2020. 

Of the 248 participants who reported their telework status in the two weeks before illness onset, the percentage who teleworked full- or part-time was lower among those with positive coronavirus tests. In these two weeks, those who had positive Covid-19 test results were also more likely to report going exclusively to a school setting or an office. 

These associations were also present when the analysis was restricted to those who did not represent critical infrastructure workers.  

The findings highlight socioeconomic differences among participants who did and did not telework, the authors wrote. Non-white employees and those who earned less had less opportunity to telework. 

“This investigation provides evidence of the potential health benefits of teleworking associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote the authors. 

“Allowing and encouraging the option to work from home or telework, when possible, is an important consideration for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” they said. 

When teleworking isn’t possible, worker safety measures should continue to be scaled up, they said. 

The research does have some limitations, including that the study population may not be representative of the US population and that different types of telework were not operationalized and participants weren’t asked about specific alternative work site policies provided by their employer. 

Some US states and cities have been upping restrictions such as mandatory mask-wearing in stores, offices and schools in response to the spike in cases across the country.