November 8 coronavirus news

By Jenni Marsh, Joshua Berlinger, Zamira Rahim, Jaide Timm-Garcia and Roya Wolverson, CNN

Updated 2:53 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020
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7:12 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

More than 237,400 people have died from Covid-19 in the US

From CNN's Amanda Watts

At least 9,926,622 total cases of coronavirus have been reported in the US and at least 237,425 people have died across the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

As of 3pm ET Sunday, JHU had reported 66,064 new cases and 312 deaths in the US which has the highest number of infections worldwide.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.     

CNN is tracking the spread of coronavirus across the US here:

5:35 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

Covid-19 will have already “run rampant” in US by the time Biden takes office, says emergency physician

From CNN's Leanna Faulk

Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician at Brown University
Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician at Brown University CNN

The coronavirus pandemic will have worsened by the time Joe Biden is inaugurated as US President in January, an emergency physician has told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield.

“By the time that the Biden-Harris administration takes over, this virus is going to have already run rampant through the communities across the United States,” Dr. Megan Ranney said Sunday.
“We’re just heading into the very worst of this pandemic,” Ranney told CNN’s Whitfield, adding that she is concerned about the expected social gatherings during late November and early December.
“We’re about to see all of these little epidemics across the country, crossed and mixed, and it’s going to be an awful lot like pouring gasoline on a fire,” she said.

Ranney said she is optimistic about President-elect Joe Biden’s transition plans for leading the coronavirus response.

 “The folks that I know who are already leading the task force are absolute paragons of excellent science, excellent public messaging. They have a wealth of public health experience,” she said.
“I have really zero doubt that they are going to lead the Biden transition team and do the right thing for the country.”

Ranney also said she hopes there is an emphasis on mask use and making personal protective equipment available to health care and frontline workers in the future. She stressed the importance of having increased access to data and testing facilities. 

“I want to see it easy for every American to get tested quickly, to get their results quickly and then to make it easy for them to do the right thing if they have symptoms,” Ranney said.

CNN is tracking the spread of coronavirus across the US here:

4:41 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

WHO calls reports about mink Covid-19 strain in Denmark "concerning"

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Reports about a strain of coronavirus infecting mink in Denmark are “concerning,” but more studies are needed to determine if the strain is more dangerous in any way, the World Health Organization has said.

“It is normal for viruses to mutate or change over time. But each time a virus goes from humans to animals and back to humans, it can change more. That’s why these reports are concerning,” the WHO tweeted on November 6.

While major mutations can affect the efficacy of vaccines and treatments, the WHO said scientists have not yet noted changes to the mink-related strain that affect how well the virus transmits, the severity of disease or the risk of reinfection in people.

“The preliminary findings by Denmark are globally relevant and WHO recognizes the importance of sharing epidemiological, virological and full genome sequence information with other countries and research teams, including through open-source platforms,” the agency said in a statement Friday.

At least 214 cases of Covid-19 have been linked with farmed minks in Denmark since June, the agency said.

The WHO noted that the minks were infected following human exposure. The animals can act as a reservoir, “passing the virus between them, and pose a risk for virus spill-over from mink to humans.”

“WHO advises all countries to enhance surveillance for Covid-19 at the animal-human interface where susceptible animal reservoirs are identified, including mink farms,” it added.

3:45 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

Biden administration will need an “all hands-on deck” approach to the pandemic, doctor says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

President-elect Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Chase Center on November 07, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. 
President-elect Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Chase Center on November 07, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration will need an “all hands on deck” approach to the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Jehan el-Bayoumi, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, said Sunday.

We are in a four-alarm fire, and we need to not only get everybody to stop the fire – stop it from spreading – but also figure out what caused the fire in the first place,” El-Bayoumi told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield.

“We have to have all hands on deck,” added el-Bayoumi, who has treated White House staff, as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a blood clot in 2012.

El-Bayoumi said she is “relieved” President-elect Joe Biden will soon be leading the nation’s coronavirus response.

“First of all, to have a President-elect that is going to validate all the frontline health care workers, to not attack and say that people are profiting, to acknowledge the hard work and the sacrifices – that will do a lot for the morale,” she said.

El-Bayoumi added that there was already a “pandemic playbook,” which the Obama administration handed to the Trump administration.

“Simply dusting that off, updating it, tailoring it, will be important,” she said. 

El-Bayoumi said it was crucial to employ a holistic strategy to the pandemic response that considers people of color, existing health conditions and the way the crisis is impacting non-Covid care.

Watch Dr. El-Bayoumi speak about Biden's approach to the pandemic:

2:55 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

Belgium monitoring its mink farms after Danish virus outbreak

From CNN's James Frater

Minks at a farm in Gjol, northern Denmark on October 9, 2020. Around 17 million mink are to be put down at various farms in Denmark due to contamination with the Covid-19 coronavirus. 
Minks at a farm in Gjol, northern Denmark on October 9, 2020. Around 17 million mink are to be put down at various farms in Denmark due to contamination with the Covid-19 coronavirus.  Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima

Belgium is monitoring and testing its mink population weekly after Denmark reported a widespread outbreak of a new variant of the novel coronavirus at its mink farms.

The Danish government this week announced it planned to cull the nation's entire mink population of 17 million in order to contain the spread after it discovered evidence that the virus that causes Covid-19 had mutated in mink, after being passed on by humans.

Belgium has a smaller mink population, with 15 mink farms currently in operation in Flanders, the Flemish region in the country’s north, according to the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC). Fur farming is banned in the rest of the country.

Steven Van Gucht, Head Virologist, at the Belgian Health Authority (Sciensano) told Belgian radio on Saturday: “Samples are collected every week at the mink farms to check if the new coronavirus strain has broken out at Belgian mink farms.

“So far, all tests have come back negative. If the new strain does show up here, all mink will have to be culled.”

However, he said he was “not that worried” about the new variant.

“It seems unlikely that the mink variant would have become more dangerous for people. On the contrary I suspect what has happened is that it has become better adapted to mink and so therefore it is probably less adapted to humans,” Van Gucht added.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Wednesday the decision to cull the minks had been made with a "heavy heart," but it was necessary based on the recommendation of health authorities.

Coronavirus mutations are not expected to alter vaccine efficacy, a World Health Organization scientist said in June.

Speaking at a briefing on Friday, another WHO expert, Maria Van Kekhove, cautioned that "mutations are normal."

2:10 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

Tackling coronavirus in the US is the first item on Biden and Harris' agenda

From CNN's Maggie Fox

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take the stage at the Chase Center to address the nation on November 7, in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take the stage at the Chase Center to address the nation on November 7, in Wilmington, Delaware. Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

Tackling the pandemic in the US is the first item on the Biden-Harris transition team’s website.

The US President-elect and Vice President-elect pledge to ensure free, reliable testing for all Americans, a better supply of personal protective equipment, clear and consistent guidance and a $25 billion vaccine manufacturing and distribution plan.

The Biden team also plans to appoint Harris to head a task force to tackle racial and ethnic disparities regarding the impact of the virus.

The team plans to draw up a “nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that Americans can check in real-time to help them gauge whether local transmission is actively occurring in their zip codes.”

The Biden team said their White House will “immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which — while not perfect — is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic."

The team also intends to restore the Obama-era White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was disbanded in 2018.

The website also promises a national mask mandate but says it will get there by working with governors and mayors and “by asking the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis.”

The Trump Administration invested heavily in vaccine development and promised any approved coronavirus vaccine would be provided free of cost to all Americans. But the White House also struggled to deploy enough tests and PPE to those that needed it.

The current administration has also publicly battled with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about coronavirus guidance. 

The US is approaching 10 million diagnosed coronavirus cases (the CDC says the majority of cases have gone undiagnosed) and a quarter of a million deaths. 

On Saturday, Johns Hopkins University reported 126,742 daily new coronavirus cases in the US, the highest single daily count reported since the pandemic began.

1:30 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

Former US FDA commissioner says country needs to be more “aggressive” in Covid-19 response

From CNN's Leanna Faulk

Former US FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb
Former US FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Trump administration needs a more aggressive strategy to battle coronavirus between now and January, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Sunday. 

“We're past the election – I think they need to focus on what we can be doing nationally,” Gottlieb told Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” 
“We've been sort of arguing politically over what I think is a false dichotomy, and that it's really a choice between lockdowns and no lockdowns and that's not the case.”

 Gottlieb said he did not think lockdowns were the only solution to control the virus. 

“We don't need to shut down the country, close businesses, tell people they need to stay at home, to get some measure of control over this virus,” he said.
“We're not going to get perfect control over this virus – it's a contagious virus. It's going to spread, but it doesn't need to spread at the levels and at the velocity that's going to start to press the healthcare system, which is what we're seeing. We're seeing that in Wisconsin now.”

Wisconsin health officials reported 7,065 confirmed cases on Saturday, the state Department of Health said. Another 45 deaths were reported on Saturday. On Friday, Wisconsin reported 12% of hospital beds available. 

Gottlieb also had some advice for President-elect Joe Biden on how to implement a strategy over the next few months. Gottlieb said Biden should be working with the National Governors Association to execute his plan nationally. 

“They can start working with the governors and try to formulate policy with the governors and try to create a more national strategy that way,” he said.
“If you're not going to have a federally led national strategy in the next couple of months, and it's going to be led at the state level, you at least want to coordinate across the different states so it starts to have the semblance of a more cohesive plan.”
1:06 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

At least 50 million cases of Covid-19 recorded worldwide

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

The total number of reported coronavirus cases worldwide has exceeded 50 million according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

At 11:50am ET on Sunday, the number of cases was 50,052,204.

The country with the highest number of infections remains the US, followed by India, Brazil, Russia and then France.

Globally, there have been 1,253,110 deaths from Covid-19, according to JHU, almost 20% of which occurred in the United States.

CNN is tracking the worldwide spread of coronavirus here:

12:42 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

EU hails success of cross-border Covid-19 contact tracing system

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

The European Commission has hailed the success of its cross-border Covid-19 contact tracing system.

In a tweet on Sunday, the Commission highlighted the work of Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Spain in using the system to ensure that “their contact and warning apps work across borders.”

As Europe continues to record significant coronavirus case numbers, there has been a push for greater cooperation between states regarding contact tracing.

The European Commission announced in a post on its website that it has “set up a new services to allow national apps to talk to each other across borders in Europe.”
According to the Commission “three national apps (Germany, Ireland, and Italy) were first linked on 19 October when the system came online” and there are plans for more apps to become interoperable in further rounds.

A map accompanying the tweet depicted the status of contact tracing systems in place throughout the EU.

When an app user logs that they have tested positive for Covid-19, their phone only sends the user’s anonymized ID to a central database and it is the phone itself that downloads the database and carries out contact matching.

Presently, only decentralized apps work across borders using the EU system.

The EU added that “citizens’ personal data are fully protected” when using the system and that information which is “only be stored in the gateway for a maximum period of 14 days” and is “is fully pseudonymized, encrypted and limited to the essential.”