Coronavirus USA news summary: Sunday 20 September

Coronavirus USA: live updates 20 September 2020

US coronavirus latest: 14:30 PT / 17:30 ET on Sunday 20 September (23:30 CEST)

Latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide

Cases: 30,877,717
Deaths: 958,461
Recoveries: 21,103,731

US

Cases: 6,791,
Deaths: 199,481
Recoveries: 2,577,446

Coronavirus-related stories you might be interested in:

Millions of non-filers could be missing out on their stimulus check

The IRS says as many as nine million people who don't usually file taxes in the US may not have applied for a stimulus check despite being eligible.

Full story:

Pine-Sol added to the list of cleaners that can kill coronavirus on hard surfaces

Pine-Sol's original cleaner has been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a product that can kill the coronavirus on frequently used surfaces.

The product was added to the agency's list of products expected to kill the virus after meeting the criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, an EPA spokeswoman told CNN on Sunday.

Pine-Sol was tested by a third-party laboratory that showed the disinfectant can kill the virus within 10 minutes of being used on hard, nonporous surfaces.

"With a long-standing history of being a powerful cleaner and disinfectant, Pine-Sol Original Multi-Surface Cleaner now offers the clean families have trusted through generations with the protection they need right now against the spread of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19," said Chris Hyder, vice president and general manager of The Clorox Company's cleaning division.

Adm. Brett Brett P. Giroir, who heads up national testing efforts, and Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, gave a more conservative timetable for vaccine availability.

Both defended the forecasts made by experts including Dr. Robert Redfield (head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), who was publicly slated by the president for estimating that an effective vaccine might not be available to the public until the middle of 2021.

Speaking on CNN, Admiral Giroir told host Jake Tapper, that “in front of the Senate, Dr. Redfield and I both said that a vaccine that would be widely available in hundreds of millions of doses would not likely happen until mid-2021. That is a fact.”

However, he said, that President Trump was correct in saying that “We could have as many as a hundred million doses by the end of this year. That is correct.”

 

WBNA game postponed due to Covid-19 results on Seattle team

The WBNA game between the Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx has been postponed due to inconclusive Covid-19 tests. 

In a press release, the league announced that the players have entered isolation, and a revamped schedule will be announced as things develop:

"After receiving inconclusive Covid-19 test results today for players from the Seattle Storm, the WNBA announced that Game 1 of the WNBA Semifinals between the Seattle Storm and the Minnesota Lynx has been postponed out of an abundance of caution."

FBI working overtime to stop Covid-19 scams

The FBI’s Steven Merrill says the law-enforcement agency is working hard to stop the many scams that have arisen in the United States as con-artists seek to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m working longer hours than ever, because we have to keep on top of these scams,” Merill told CNBC. He added: “There’s never been a shortage of greed, and the criminals’ ability to highlight these stressful times and our vulnerability is certainly apparent.”

Among the most recent ruses the FBI have caught are purported PPE providers that fail to follow through on equipment orders, and a man who has taken to YouTube with videos seeking investors in a ‘cure’ he claims to have developed for the virus.

WiFi Santa Ana California

'WiFi on Wheels' helps students overcome distance-learning difficulties

A van equipped as a mobile WiFi hotspot is used in Santa Ana, California, to help students get the internet access they need to remotely attend their classes this week. With a WiFi router attached to the dashboard and a satellite antenna on the roof, the van is helping 200 disadvantaged students in the area cope with the rigors of distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

(Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

Covid

US sets record with over one million Covid-19 tests in a day

The US set a one-day record with over one million coronavirus diagnostic tests being performed, but the country needs six million to 10 million a day to bring outbreaks under control, according to various experts.

The country performed 1,061,411 tests on Saturday, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

The record comes after testing has fallen for several weeks. The US tested on average 650,000 people a day in the week ended 13 September, down from a peak in late July of over 800,000 people a day.

Since the start of the pandemic, testing shortages have hampered efforts to curb the spread of the virus. At one point during the summer, Houston residents lined up in cars and waited hours for tests, even sleeping in their vehicles overnight. Miami saw similar lines. Once tested, people may have to wait up to two weeks to learn if they have the virus. Such delays defeat the purpose of trying to prevent further infections.

In March, President Donald Trump said "anyone who wants a test, gets a test". That goal has yet to be achieved.

At the heart of the crisis is a reliance by labs on automated testing equipment that locks them into using proprietary chemical kits and other tools made by a handful of manufacturers.

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to several saliva tests, which require no swabs and use readily available reagents.

The US has also authorized pooled testing, a method that tests samples from several people at once and can expand testing capacity.

However, pooled testing is only more efficient in areas with limited outbreaks. In mid-September, 27 of 50 states had positive test rates above 5%, according to a Reuters analysis, including South Dakota at 17%. The World Health Organization considers positivity rates above 5% concerning.

(Text: Reuters; photo: Reuters/Sergio Flores/File Photo)

Covid-19 Emmy Awards, details on how to watch the 72nd edition of the awards ceremony

Iran's Rouhani says U.S. faces defeat in bid to reimpose U.N. sanctions

The United States faces defeat in its move to reimpose U.N. sanctions on Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, as Washington declared all U.N. sanctions on Iran had been restored.

"America is approaching a certain defeat in its sanctions move ... It faced defeat and negative response from the international community," Rouhani said in a televised speech.

"We will never yield to U.S. pressure and Iran will give a crushing response to America's bullying," he said.

The Iranian rial fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar on Sunday following the Trump administration's declaration.

Does wearing glasses protect you from Covid-19?

After researchers noticed fewer nearsighted patients in a hospital ward in China, they speculated that wearing glasses might offer some protection against Covid-19.

Full article via NY Times here

Dallas Stars

After four month Covid-19 hiatus NHL Stanley Cup final starts with Stars claiming opening win

Dallas Stars drew first blood in the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday in the final chapter to an NHL season that took a four-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Second-period goals from Jamie Oleksiak and Joel Kiviranta put Dallas in complete control as they grabbed the opener of the best-of-seven series in Edmonton, one of two hub cities for the playoffs to help limit travel and minimize Covid-19 risk.

Stars Russian goalie Anton Khudobin, who had never started a National Hockey League playoff game before this year, made 35 saves in the win.

"I always think about the team. It's a team effort, it's team performance," said Khudobin. "I made a couple good saves but at the same time we are playing together, we are playing as a team."

The Stars, who had four days off after winning the Western Conference Final, came out hitting hard from the opening faceoff against a banged-up Lightning squad that had just one day of rest after their overtime win in the Eastern Conference Final.

NHC monitoring Tropical storm Beta

Tropical Storm Beta, which is heading northeast at a very slow 2 mph in the Gulf of Mexico could turn into a Category 1 hurricane by the end of Sunday night or early Monday morning before possibly making landfall in Texas on Monday night/Tuesday morning. Even if it doesn't make landfall, Beta will bring more rainfall to the region this week - according to the latest forecast, about 6-10 inches of rain in parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Vaccine

Latin American nations plan to join COVAX vaccine facility after deadline

Brazil and Argentina, Latin American nations seeking more time to commit to the global Covid-19 vaccine facility known as COVAX, said they intend to so as soon as possible after missing Friday's deadline.

Peru's foreign ministry said on Saturday it managed to sign the binding agreement on Friday and will get access to 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX, a scheme for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual vaccines.

Argentina asked for more time to prepare the required paperwork but expects to sign on Wednesday its commitment to the vaccine mechanism led by the World Health Organization, a health ministry official told Reuters.

The Brazilian government said in a statement late on Friday that it will sign up for COVAX after negotiations with the GAVI Alliance, which is the COVAX secretariat. 

Astra Zeneca confirms vaccine trials in US are on hold

Full report on the vaccine situation here

New Covid-19 cases take downward trend in the United States

The U.S. reported about 41,000 positive Covid-19 cases on Saturday, a decrease from the previous day’s total of 43,628. The country continued to edge closer to another landmark in the crisis as the death toll reached 199,268 by early morning on Sunday. 

Total confirmed cases in the United States topped 6.766 million, almost 22% of the world-wide total. The most deaths in the U.S. have occurred in New York (33,081), New Jersey (16,064), Texas (15,051) and California (15,024). 

Florida State football coach Mike Norvell tests positive for Covid-19

Florida State coach Mike Norvell confirmed on Saturday that he is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19. Deputy head coach Chris Thomsen will take over coaching duties until Norvell returns.

Norvell explained that he tested positive in a routine round of testing on Friday but feels  fine. His wife and daughter were tested on Saturday and both tested negative but have been placed into quarantine as a precaution.

"My result was surprising to me, but we have prepared for a potential positive result among anyone in our program and we will put that plan in place while I am away," Norvell said. "I will remain involved remotely as much as possible to help our team continue to prepare. I'm grateful to the administration, players and staff for their commitment to the protocols we have in place, which have helped us limit contact with others and allowed us to continue moving forward."

Covid-19 and wearing glasses

Researchers working in a hospital ward in China during the coronavirus pandemic noticed that very few of the sick patients regularly wore glasses. That prompted them to speculate that wearing glasses might offer some protection against Covid-19 droplets landing on the face.

In one hospital, 276 patients were admitted over a 47-day period, but only 16 of them (less than 6%) had myopia or short-sightedness that required them to wear glasses for more than eight hours a day. By comparison, more than 30% of similarly-aged people in the region needed glasses for short-sightedness, according to earlier research. 

2020 Atlantic hurricane season runs out of names for storms

2020 has been quite a year for the National Hurricane Center and the World Meteorological Organization who have been dealing with an unusually busy hurricane season. Once disturbances reach storm category, they are given a name and those names run in alphabetical order from A to W. 

This year, for only the second time in history, all 21 letters (A-W - names beginning with the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used) have already been used. The season's 21st storm, Tropical Storm Wilfred, formed on Friday. That means that any futures storms will be named after letters in the Greek alphabet - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta... and so on. There are 24 letters in the Greek Alphabet.

Michigan prison urged to hand out free cups to inmates

Michigan's American Civil Liberties Union has requested that inmates in a federal prison are provided with their own free cups out of concern that drinking directly from water fountains puts prisoners at risk for contracting Covid-19. 

Inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution, Milan in Washtenaw County would normally get drinking water from the dining hall, according to prison spokesman Daniel Clore. Milan stopped providing bottled water in mid-August. Bottled water is not available for prisoners to purchase however, reusable cups are on sale for 30 cents but some prisoners who don't have money for cups are forced to drink directly out of a fountain. 

Ricin found in letter addressed to Trump and posted to the White House 

Federal officials intercepted a suspicious letter addressed to the White House which contained the poison ricin, officials confirmed on Saturday. The letter appeared to have been posted in Canada and was intercepted at a government facility that screens all mail addressed to the White House and President Donald Trump.

Early investigations showed that the letter tested positive for ricin, a poison produced from castor seed oil. A dose of purified ricin powder the size of a few grains of table salt can kill an adult human. The FBI, Secret Service and the US Postal Inspection Service are investigating the matter.

Three test positive for Covid-19 at Brewers' camp

The Milwaukee Brewers' alternate camp is under full quarantine after two players and one staffer tested positive for Covid-19, general manager David Stearns confirmed to reporters prior to Saturday night's game against the Kansas City Royals.

The Athletic reported the positive tests about 45 minutes before first pitch. The outlet said there were approximately 28 people under quarantine at the camp in Appleton, Wisconsin. Stearns said the positive tests occurred on Monday and that contact tracing is being conducted and added that there have been no further positive tests.

"We were very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren't interacting all that much with the individuals who tested positive," Stearns said. "I know it's easy to look at the bench sometimes and see guys not wearing masks, but our guys have really been outstanding in following protocols. I'm disappointed we couldn't get through the whole season without a blip but we have a blip and we have to make sure we manage it appropriately".

Bettman: Season could start in late December, January

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is eyeing a full 82-game schedule for the 2020-21 season, although he isn't certain when that campaign would actually start. Bettman said Saturday, reported by Reuters, at the Stanley Cup media conference that the season could begin in either late December or even January.

'I anticipate playing a full season next season, 82 games, full playoffs,' Bettman said. 'How and when we do that is something that we don't all have enough information to make any decisions, and anything would just be sheer speculation. Our goal is to get back to as greatest sense of normalcy as possible under whatever circumstances are presented.'

The NHL initially targeted 1 December as a possible starting point next season, however that was an admittedly flexible date. An 82-game season likely would have the league playing into the summer for the second straight year, although Bettman has his reservations on that.

'My preference would be to stay out of summer as much as possible,' Bettman said. 'Our fans typically like watching us through the fall, winter and into the spring, and it's always been a goal to be done by the end of June. Playing in late July, August and September was important to do now. If we can avoid it we will, but it's premature to have an answer other than we understand the issue and we're going to try to deal with it as best we can.'

Illinois coronavirus update

Illinois public health officials Saturday announced 2,529 newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19 and 25 more deaths. That raises the statewide known case tally to 272,856 throughout the course of the pandemic. The state reported death toll is now 8,436. The statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate stands at 3.5%.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 74,286 new tests, according to the IDPH, bringing the total number of tests to date to 5,057,142.

As America approaches 200,000 lives lost to the coronavirus, it is clearer than ever that we must enact the #HeroesAct. Thanks to leaders like @RepDMP, we will ensure America has a science-based strategy for defeating this pandemic.

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker (Twitter)

Arizona State University to shorten its fall semester

The coronavirus pandemic is prompting Arizona State University to shorten its fall semester, with any instruction during the one remaining week after the Thanksgiving break to be conducted virtually.

Provost Mark Searle also said Friday in an email citing “current health circumstances” that the December commencement would be conducted virtually.

Dallas: coronavirus updates

'Because of continued problems with the state’s electronic laboratory reporting system, the lagging number that we gave you yesterday from @CDCgov week 37 is the more accurate number that relies on checking each case’s date of test...'

Full thread:

Tourist tips for Denver trips

If you're planning on visiting Denver, the Post has pulled together some useful advice as the pandemic shows little sign of letting up.

Latin American nations plan to join COVAX vaccine facility after deadline

Brazil and Argentina, Latin American nations seeking more time to commit to the global Covid-19 vaccine facility known as COVAX, said they intend to so as soon as possible after missing Friday's deadline.

Peru's foreign ministry said on Saturday it managed to sign the binding agreement on Friday and will get access to 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX, a scheme for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual vaccines.

Argentina asked for more time to prepare the required paperwork but expects to sign on Wednesday its commitment to the vaccine mechanism led by the World Health Organization, a health ministry official told Reuters. The Brazilian government said in a statement late on Friday that it will sign up for COVAX after negotiations with the GAVI Alliance, which is the COVAX secretariat.

'The purchase of a safe and effective vaccine is a priority for the federal government,' a Brazilian statement said.

Covid-19 catch-up

Here is a selection of some of the coronavirus-related stories that have been making the headlines over the last 24 hours:

- Alaska’s move toward the chillier season is going to mean more challenges for homeless services providers amid pandemic

- More than 9,000 people from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties have died from the #coronavirus in the past six months

- 1.8 million Texans continue to claim unemployment while negotiations in Washington over a new coronavirus deal continue to stall

- The state of New York has approved the $300 weekly unemployment benefits for another three weeks

- Wearing a face mask might provide better protection against Covid-19 than a vaccine, said Dr. Robert Redfield

Coronavirus live US updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live, United States-focused coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now registered over 30.6 million cases worldwide leading to almost 960,000 deaths.

With over 6.76 million cases so far, the US has been the world's worst-affected country and accounts for over a fifth of the globe's total infections.

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