November 15 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Jenni Marsh and Tara John, CNN

Updated 11:07 p.m. ET, November 15, 2020
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11:18 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

Fauci says the nation could start getting back to relative normality by April or July

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious expert, told CNN he thinks the nation could start getting back to relative normality by April or July of 2021 saying he thought that would be possible to achieve by the second or third quarter next year.

When Americans can gather again depends on a number of factors, Fauci told CNN giving the example of vaccines.

Fauci pointed to the manufacturer Pfizer’s announcement that its early data shows its vaccine is more than 90% effective and a second company is expected to soon unveil its early results. 

“That’s great, but we have to get people to take the vaccine,” he said. “So, if we get the overwhelming majority of people taking the vaccine, and you have on the one hand an effective vaccine, on the other hand, a high degree of uptake of the vaccine, we could start getting things back to relative normal as we get into the second and third quarter of the year, where people can start thinking about doing things that were too dangerous just months ago."

But all things have to be put together, he said, America “can’t just wish it happening.”

Vaccines have to come, they have to be deployed and fundamental public health measures can’t be abandoned, Fauci said.


10:37 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

Czech Republic reports further decline in Covid-19 cases since early November highs

From CNN’s Eleanor Pickston

The Czech Republic has reported a further decline in daily Covid-19 infections and deaths since record highs in early November.

The country recorded 4,199 new cases on Saturday, down by more than 3,500 from the previous Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Some 132 new fatalities were reported, taking the country’s total coronavirus death toll to 6,058 as of Saturday, the latest day for which complete figures are available.

The Czech Republic has reported 458,229 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

Czech Education Minister Robert Plaga announced the partial­ reopening of schools on Wednesday, allowing first and second grade students to return to classrooms from Nov. 18. Older students will continue to study from home.

The country is currently in its second national coronavirus lockdown, requiring the closure of most schools, restricted movement, and the closure of many shops and services.

10:47 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

NYC schools will be open Monday as 7-day coronavirus positivity rate remains under 3%

High school students listen to questions posed by their principal in Brooklyn, New York, on October 29.
High school students listen to questions posed by their principal in Brooklyn, New York, on October 29. Kathy Willen/AP

New York City schools will remain open Monday, as the city’s seven-day test positivity rate continues to remain under 3%.

The 7-day average test positivity rate is 2.57%, Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said in a statement Sunday morning.

More context: If the test positivity rate reached or exceeded 3%, city schools could be closed and students would move to all -remote learning, the mayor has previously said.

“Today, schools currently remain open, based on today’s 7-day test positivity rate. Again, we expect the daily test positivity to backfill and increase as more tests results are entered into the system, but do not expect that increase to push today’s 7-day average to 3%,” Neidhardt said in an email. 

The mayor shared his gratitude on Twitter, saying in part, “Thankfully, schools will remain open on Monday, but we have to keep fighting back with everything we’ve got."

In addition to the test positivity rate, at least 937 positive cases of Covid-19 have been reported Sunday and 117 people have been admitted to hospitals across the city, the email said.

Remember: These numbers were released by the city’s health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

9:24 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

Fauci says it's been months since Trump attended a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, told CNN that it has been months since President Trump attended a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting.

Fauci noted that Vice President Mike Pence is the administration's point person on the task force and he "translates" to Trump what the task force discusses.

Here's what Fauci said this morning about Trump and the task force meetings:

"You know, it was months ago, but, you know, when we have our task force meeting, it's run, as you know, by Vice President Pence and the vice president then translates that the President, himself. But the last time the President was physically at a task force meeting was several months ago," Fauci said.

9:15 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

Fauci on the pandemic: "We can get this to plateau, to come down"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, said a nationwide policy on masks and social distancing is crucial to mitigating the spread of Covid-19.

Fauci's comments come just after the US recorded 184,000 new Covid-19 cases on Friday.

"Everybody has got to do it," Fauci said about mask wearing and social distancing. "There is no excuse not to do that right now. Because we know that can turn things around. I mean, that is the tool we have. As I've mentioned just recently and as you eluded to, we have good news with regard to the vaccine. So there is light at the end of the tunnel. Help is coming and that should, I believe, motivate people to just say we are going to double down and do this uniformly. Those are the tools we have right now. And they do work. We can get this to plateau to come down."

Fauci added that without a nationwide policy, the US could hit 439,000 total deaths due to Covid-19 by March 1.

8:45 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci to speak on CNN

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, will be discussing the coronavirus pandemic on CNN's "State of the Union" at 9 a.m. ET.

7:36 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

Domestic travelers in Australia ordered into self-quarantine after mid-flight interstate rule change

From CNN’s Samantha Beech in Perth and Angus Watson in Sydney

Authorities in Perth, Australia, told a planeload of domestic travelers on Sunday that they must either leave the state or undergo a two-week self-quarantine after the Western Australian (WA) government changed its border policy while they were mid-flight.

On Sunday the WA government added South Australia (SA) to its list of Australian States subject to a 14-day self-quarantine, after SA announced three cases of community transmission in Adelaide.

The decision was undertaken while 160 passengers on board Qantas Flight 889 were flying from Adelaide, which is in SA, to Perth, according to CNN affiliate 9 News. They were tested and then told they must self-quarantine or return to Adelaide, 9 News reported.

The airport was otherwise a scene of joyous reunions on Sunday, one day after a 222-day interstate hard border ended. The WA government introduced a so-called “controlled border” on Saturday with other States of Australia, after shutting off travel from the rest of the country in March to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Only international travelers, and domestic arrivals from the states of Victoria, New South Wales and SA will be forced into quarantine.

The WA government released a statement Sunday and said the measures will be regularly reviewed.

We will monitor the position in South Australia very closely and will strengthen measures if required,” the statement said. “We understand these changes will cause frustration for many people, but these steps are being taken on the best health advice to protect everyone. The State Government thanks all arrivals for their patience and understanding.”

International travelers are still banned from entering Australia during the pandemic, unless they are citizens, permanent residents or have successfully applied for an exemption. Those who do return from overseas must undergo 14 days of strict hotel quarantine.

6:54 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

"We expect this to get harder." For the NFL, it's Super Bowl or bust as the pandemic rages

From CNN's Ray Sanchez and David Close

A general view of empty stands at Raymond James Stadium during a game between the South Florida Bulls and the Citadel Bulldogs on September 12 in Tampa, Florida.
A general view of empty stands at Raymond James Stadium during a game between the South Florida Bulls and the Citadel Bulldogs on September 12 in Tampa, Florida. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Super Bowl, the crown jewel of American sports, is scheduled for the first Sunday in February at Raymond James Stadium in Florida at a time when total US deaths from the coronavirus are projected to be nearly 400,000 -- about six times the venue's seating capacity.

"Our objective is for all teams to safely and responsibly complete the regular season within our 17-week schedule -- and have a full postseason, culminating with the Super Bowl with fans in the stands on February 7th in Tampa," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week as the league embarked on the second half of the season.

"We are committed to completing the season as scheduled."

It's a tall order, as coronavirus infections and deaths surge across the country in a fall and winter wave that Americans have expected for months. Largely praised for its stringent pandemic protocols, the NFL has reached a crucial point in its quest to become the nation's first major sport to play a full and mostly uninterrupted season during the health crisis.

"Getting to the Super Bowl, it's completely possible," said Tara Kirk Sell, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "It really depends on both your tolerance for risk and tolerance for having cases. And if you really don't care about having too many cases, then there's really no problem, right? I do think the league has done a lot of good things to reduce risk. The question is: Is that enough? And it's going to get so much harder going forward."

Read the full story:

5:24 a.m. ET, November 15, 2020

Fire kills 10 Covid-19 patients in Romanian hospital

From CNN's Cristiana Moisescu and Sharif Paget

Members of the emergency services work at the scene of a hospital fire where the intensive care unit was burned in Piatra Neamt, Romania, on November 14.
Members of the emergency services work at the scene of a hospital fire where the intensive care unit was burned in Piatra Neamt, Romania, on November 14. Robert Iosub/Zia Piatra Neamt/AFP/Getty Images

At least 10 people have been killed in a fire at a Romanian hospital treating Covid-19 patients, the hospital's spokesperson said in a statement Saturday. They were all patients.

The blaze broke out in an intensive care unit treating a total of 16 coronavirus patients at the Piatra Neamt County Emergency Hospital. 

The "tragedy...has left the whole country mourning," Romania's President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement on Saturday.

I am deeply saddened by the death of the patients in the intensive care unit and I send my condolences and much strength to their families in these difficult times," he added.  

Several other people were seriously injured, including a doctor who tried to rescue the patients. The doctor suffered burns on 40% of his body and is currently in a stable condition, the statement read.

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban called the doctor a hero for running into the blaze to help the patients, some of them unconscious and on ventilators. 

Nelu Tataru, Romania's Minister of Health, said the doctor will be transferred to a hospital in the country's capital Bucharest by a military medical plane. The six patients who survived the fire have been transferred to a hospital in the city of Iasi. 
Tataru said the cause of the fire is being investigated and he's waiting for the results to come in from the Regional Emergency Department (ISU) and the General Prosecutor’s Office. 

Cases are soaring in the country. On Saturday, there were 557 Covid-19 cases for every 100,000 people, according to a two-week average compiled by European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In total there have been 353,185 confirmed cases of the virus and 8,813 Covid-19 related deaths since the pandemic started, according to Johns Hopkins University data.