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Coronavirus USA: news summary for 23 September

Coronavirus USA: news summary for 23 September

Covid-19 live US updates: 23 September

Indiana to move into Stage 5 reopening

Indiana will move to Stage 5 -the final phase of reopening, on Saturday, Gov. Eric Holcomb confirmed today. "Because of the progress we've made over the the last three weeks, we will be able to move on to Stage 5 of our back-on-track reopening plan. Our seven-day positivity rate has hovered around 7% and has been holding steady so we have come a long way. And we are testing more - about 15,000 a day, tracing is also working," he said in a press briefing.

Retail stores, malls, restaurants, bars and nightclubs can operate at full capacity under the Stage 5 rules.

Missouri governor tests positive for Covid-19

Missouri Govenor Mike Parson and his wife Teresa have tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, officials announced this afternoon.

Parson and his wife were tested because Teresa was showing minor symptoms, his office said. Gov. Parson however has no symptoms.

"All official and campaign events have been canceled until further notice. Governor Parson continues to conduct and fulfill all roles of businesses of the state of Missouri from the Governor's Mansion," a statement read.

New York's Metropolitan Opera to remain closed for another year

New York's famed Metropolitan Operacancelled its entire upcoming season on Wednesday and said it would remain closed until September 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a sign of the continuing struggles for live entertainment.

The 3,800-seat opera house normally stages more than 200 performances each season and welcomes nearly 800,000 visitors, according to its website. "We regret to inform you that the Metropolitan Opera has made the extremely difficult decision to cancel the entirety of the 2020–21 season, based on the advice of health officials who advise the Met and Lincoln Center," where the opera is based, the organization said in a statement.

"Because of the many hundreds of performers who are required to rehearse and perform in close quarters and because of the company's large audience, it was determined that it would not be safe for the Met to resume until a vaccine is widely in use, herd immunity is established, and the wearing of masks and social distancing is no longer a medical requirement," the Met's statement said.

The Met said it had ambitious plans for a new season beginning in September 2021 with the premiere of Terence Blanchard'sFire Shut up in my Bones, the first opera by a Black composer to be performed at the Met. Operators of Broadway theaters, among the biggest tourist attractions in New York, currently aim to reopen in January 2021.


Around 20% of people with Covid-19 remain asymptomatic

Only 1 in 5 infected with Covid-19 remain asymptomatic Most people infected with the new coronavirus will have symptoms, according to researchers who reviewed data from nearly 80 studies of individuals with positive PCR tests for Covid-19. Overall, just 20% remained asymptomatic. Five of the studies provided enough data for the researchers to examine the spread of the disease.

Compared to Covid-19 patients with symptoms, patients who never developed symptoms were 65% less likely to transmit the virus to others, the researchers reported on Tuesday in the journal PloS Medicine. "A minority of people has truly asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection and, if they are less infectious than people with symptoms, they probably account for a relatively small proportion of all transmission," coauthor Dr. Nicola Low of the University of Bern told Reuters. "Most people will go on to develop symptoms and there is a substantial amount of transmission during the pre-symptomatic phase," Low added.

That means prevention measures to reduce transmission, including face covering, social distancing, physical barriers and widespread testing and contact tracing to find and isolate contagious people remains necessary. 


IMF official sees coronavirus crisis dampening growth in some countries for years

It will take some countries years to return to economic growth following the coronavirus crisis, which is lasting longer than expected, the No. 2 official at the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

The Fund has provided some $90 billion in emergency financing to almost 80 countries, including 20 in Latin America. It is continuing to work with member countries on how to contain the pandemic and mitigate its economic impact, First Deputy Managing Director Geoffrey Okamoto told an online event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "We're trying to preserve our financial firepower," Okamoto said. "We're talking about a return to growth that's going to take a few years, and many countries along the way that are probably going to need assistance."

Latin American and Caribbean economies are the hardest hit in the world by the pandemic, reporting around 8.4 million coronavirus cases, and more than 314,000 deaths, both figures being the highest of any region. Okamoto told the event that Fund officials were in talks with the Group of 20 major economies about extending a temporary halt in official bilateral debt service payments by low-income countries under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), and how to kickstart private sector participation.

The G20 initiative approved in April currently expires at the end of the year, but experts and government officials in many countries have backed extending it into 2021, with a decision expected in coming weeks and months. The United States, the largest shareholder in the IMF, has signalled it hopes to contribute, but no funds have been provided for those programs thus far given the lack of a legislative package that could be used to secure passage.

Dr Fauci: Covid-19 vaccine "may take some time" to reach public

Dr Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, told a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that it "may take some time" for a coronavirus vaccine to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and be rolled out to the public

However, Dr Fauci added that there was "growing optimism" that a vaccine will be available by the end of 2020 or in the early months of next year.

"A safe and effective vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 will be essential to stopping the spread of infection, reducing rates of morbidity and mortality, and preventing future outbreaks," he said, per CNBC.

Chevron asks employees to delete WeChat after U.S. ban

U.S. oil giant Chevron Corp has asked employees globally to delete Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat from their work phones, following the Trump administration's executive order to ban the social media app, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

A U.S. judge on Sunday blocked a government order requiring Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google to remove WeChat for downloads on national security grounds.

The U.S. Commerce Department said on Monday it would challenge the order.


Surge in cases in Wisconsin, new cluster in Brooklyn cause concern

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday declared a new public health emergency and extended a face mask mandate into November to fight a coronavirus flareup in his state, as the number of people who have died across the United States since the pandemic began passed 200,000.

In-person social gatherings have led to cases in Wisconsin skyrocketing among people aged 18 to 24, Evers said and pleaded with students who returned to colleges for the fall semester to stay out of bars and wear masks.

"We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus," the governor said in a statement announcing his decision.

Meanwhile, in New York City health officials identified a new cluster of Covid-19 cases in the borough of Brooklyn, and noted a marked uptick in infections there and in some other neighborhoods.


Dollar clings to two-month highs amid Covid-19 angst

The dollar clung to two-month highs on Wednesday as positive U.S. economic data and concerns about a second wave of coronavirus infections in Europe met weak economic indicators.

Euro zone business growth ground to a halt in September, raising fears that fresh restrictions to quell a resurgence in coronavirus infections might put the economic recovery into jeopardy.

In Britain, the economy also lost momentum, a business survey showed, as consumer-facing sectors suffered, notably from the end of a government subsidy to support restaurants.

Other data, such as the number of nights booked in Spanish hotels falling by 64% last month, added to the pessimistic mood.

Commenting on the disappointing indicators, both in the UK and the euro zone, Rupert Thompson, chief investment officer at Kingswood, warned that a swift V-shaped recovery from now on was unlikely.


J&J kicks off final study of single-shot Covid-19 vaccine in 60,000 volunteers

Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday kicked off a final 60,000-person trial of a single-shot Covid-19 vaccine that potentially would simplify  distribution of millions of doses compared with leading rivals using two doses.

The company expects results of the Phase III trial by year end or early next year, Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&J's chief scientific officer, said in a joint press conference with officials from the National Institutes of Health and the Trump administration.

Rival vaccines from Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca all require two shots separated by several weeks, which make them much more difficult to administer.

According to US Government and WHO, who would get coronavirus vaccine first?


According to US Government and WHO, who would get coronavirus vaccine first?

According to US Government and WHO, who would get coronavirus vaccine first?

Once a vaccine has been approved, which members of the public are likely to receive initial doses according the the US Government and the World Health Organisatiuon?

US elections 2020: how do I register to vote?


US elections 2020: how do I register to vote?

US elections 2020: how do I register to vote?

A useful guide on how you can register to vote ahead of November's presidential and congressional elections in the United States:

Coronavirus: how have CDC guidelines changed about airborne transmission?


Coronavirus: how have CDC guidelines changed about airborne transmission?

Up in the air: what changed in CDC's guidelines on whether coronavirus is airborne?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its official Covid-19 guidelines on Friday, and then quickly retracted them. What happened?

Full story:

Virus name reminds me of Italian villa, Trump tells rally

Speaking at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump offered a bizarre explanation for his use of the racist term “China virus” - claiming that it is because the word “coronavirus” reminds him of a “beautiful villa” in Italy.

Trump also declared that his administration has done a “great job” in its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, and made fun of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing a face mask, saying: "I mean, honestly, what the hell did he spend all that money on the plastic surgery [for] if he's gonna cover it up?"

“President Trump wants to write off those we lost as ‘nobodies’”

In a video message posted after the United States surpassed 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has hit out at Donald Trump, saying the US president “wants to write off those we lost as ‘nobodies’.”

“The United States has reached a tragic milestone,” Biden said on Tuesday. “200,000 deaths due to coronavirus. What did Donald Trump have to say about it? In a rally in Ohio he said, and I quote, ‘It affects virtually nobody.’ Just ‘elderly people’. With ‘heart and other problems’. As if the elderly are just nobodies? They’re not nobodies - they’re our parents, our grandparents […].

“But of course, Trump is wrong on the facts. The virus affects everyone, young and old, Law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters, nurses, who put themselves on the line for us. How many of them have lost their lives? This virus spares no-one. Maybe Donald Trump sees these people as nobodies; I don’t.

We lost 200,000 moms and dads, sons and daughters, friends and coworkers. And not a single one of them was a ‘nobody’.” He added: “This virus has left a huge whole in the heart of this country and President Trump wants to write off those we lost as ‘nobodies’.”

Dr. Fauci heralded in Time Magazine

The New York born Fauci is seen my many Americans as the 'voice of common sense' relating to the pandemic in the United States and is profiled by Jimmy Kimmel as part of the magazine's 'Most 100 influential people of 2020' feature.

U.S. to skip October soccer matches due to pandemic

U.S. Soccer on Tuesday announced its men's national team will not play any international matches during the upcoming window in October due to Covid-19 concerns.

The U.S. has not played since defeating Costa Rica 1-0 in February in Carson, California.

Friendlies against Netherlands and Wales were postponed in March, along with the CONCACAF Nations League final four in June and the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in September.

"After extensive conversations about holding a men's national team camp in October, we ultimately determined the unique challenges created by Covid-19 as it relates to hosting international opponents and getting our players together wouldn't allow us to move forward," Brian McBride, U.S. general manager, said in a statement

Canada at 'crossroads' with Covid-19 case numbers rising

Canada is facing a surge in Covid-19 cases that risks ballooning to higher levels than were seen during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring if people do not take stringent precautions, health officials said.

"Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path," said a statement from the Public Health Agency.

According to a worst-case scenario outlined by the agency, cases could rise more than 1,000 per day for the next 10 days to 155,795 by Oct. 2, with the death toll hitting 9,300. On Monday, Canada had reported 145,415 total cases and 9,228 deaths.

Canada's chief public health officer, Theresa Tam, outlined  three scenarios, with the most favorable being a "slow burn" that involves active case detection and tracing, and for individuals to take all the necessary precautions.

However, if action is not taken, the outcome could be disastrous, she said.


Trump calls US deaths a 'shame'

Ahead of an election rally in Pittsburg, the president stated: “I think if we didn’t do it properly and do it right, you’d have 2.5 million deaths.”

Crews fought on Tuesday to defend homes and the famed Mount Wilson Observatory from California’s biggest and most dangerous wildfire, standing their ground at a major highway between the flames and populated areas.

Thousands of American flags were planted at the foot of the Washington Monument to mark the latest grim milestone in the U.S.: 200,000 dead from the coronavirus.

Walt Disney Co DIS.N urged California officials on Tuesday to let the company reopen the Disneyland theme park, which remains shuttered six months after closing down to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

A Louisiana megachurch pastor charged with repeatedly violating state coronavirus orders was denied entry to his court hearing Tuesday morning after refusing to wear a face mask.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon announce new, more stringent standards for an emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, lowering the chances that one might be cleared for use before the Nov. 3 election, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

U.S. passes grim milestone of 200,000 COVID-19 deaths

Unemployment benefits in California: for how long will they stop and when can I claim again?


Unemployment benefits in California: for how long will they stop and when can I claim again?

Unemployment benefits in California: for how long will they stop and when can I claim again?

California will not be accepting new unemployment claims for the next two weeks as massive allegations of fraud have been found amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

More information here:

Trump says Supreme Court pick announcement likely on Saturday

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the announcement of his nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will likely be made at 5 p.m. EDT (22:00 CEST) on Saturday. "We're getting very close to having a final decision made," Trump told reporters at the White House.

He said the announcement will be "at 5 o'clock on Saturday". Senate Republicans including Mitt Romney on Tuesday lined up behind Trump's push to widen the Supreme Court's conservative majority, leaving Democrats little hope of blocking a confirmation vote on a nominee that could come before the 3 November election.

New cluster of Brooklyn Covid-19 cases causes 'significant concern'

New York City's Health Department has identified a new cluster of Covid-19 cases in Brooklyn, and said on Tuesday a marked uptick in infections there and in some other neighborhoods is 'cause for significant concern.'

Four areas have seen a large increase in cases between early August and last week, Patrick Gallahue, a spokesman for the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, wrote in an email to reporters. After becoming the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, the city has managed to bring the number of positive test results to below 1% through social distancing measures. However, in the borough of Queens, positive cases have risen to 2.24% in Kew Gardens and 3.69% in Edgemere-Far Rockaway.

In Brooklyn, officials are concerned about Williamsburg, with a 2% positive rate, and a southern part of the borough that includes Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst, where the positive rate is 4.71%. 'It is now clear that these signals in the south of Brooklyn have coalesced into one cluster we are calling the Ocean Parkway Cluster,' Gallahue wrote.

The department said it would continue to urge people to avoid large indoor gatherings, wear masks when socially distancing is not possible and to get tested for the virus frequently.

Second stimulus check: update on coronavirus economic relief bill


Second stimulus check: update on coronavirus economic relief bill

Second stimulus check: coronavirus relief bill update

Hopes of Congress being able to pass a coronavirus stimulus bill before the elections are fading, as other issues draw focus away from relief talks.

Read more:

Canadian woman arrested in connection with Trump-ricin letter

Pascale Ferrier, a Canadian woman who has been accused of trying to mail the toxic powder ricin to president Trump, appeared in fed Donald appeared in a federal court in Buffalo on Tuesday after being arrested at the U.S.-Canada border. The letter, which also contained threats, was intercepted before it reached Trump.

800 students have tested positive in San Diego University

San Diego State University may not have suffered the largest spike of Covid-19 infections among students but the campus outbreak is large enough to put San Diego County over a state threshold for cases that mandates many businesses close or restrict indoor operations. For some businesses, it will be the third closure since California ordered the first statewide shutdown back in March.

Wisconsin Governor sounds alarm over surges in cases

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has declared a new public health emergency and extended a face mask mandate into November to fight a coronavirus flareup, as the number of people who have died across the United States since the pandemic began passed 200,000.

In-person social gatherings have led to cases in Wisconsin skyrocketing among people aged 18 to 24, Evers said, as he pleaded with students who returned to colleges for the fall semester to stay out of bars and wear masks. "We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus," the governor said in a statement announcing his decision. The mask mandate, part of a second public health emergency the Democratic governor declared in late July, was due to expire on Monday.

Wisconsin has experienced one of the highest percentage increases of coronavirus cases nationwide over the past two weeks, and has the second-highest rate of positive coronavirus tests in the nation at 17%, according to a Reuters tally. 

U.S. airlines make urgent call for new bailout ahead of October job cuts

Major U.S. airlines launched a last-ditch bid to persuade Congress to grant them a new $25 billion bailout to help avert tens of thousands of employee furloughs set to begin on 1 October. The chief executives of American Airlines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways and major aviation unions held a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon calling for a six-month extension of a payroll support program that consisted primarily of grants in exchange for keeping workers on the payroll.

"We're not going to give up," American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said, affirming that the airline would furlough some 19,000 employees on 1 October without fresh aid. He reiterated, however, that the company itself is not at risk without assistance. "American Airlines is going to be fine," he said.

On Monday, two key Republican senators introduced legislation that would authorize another $25.5 billion in payroll assistance for passenger airlines, but congressional aides said it was unlikely to win passage given aid requests from many other struggling industries. 

Coronavirus live US updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live, United States-focused coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which as of 19:00 ET on Monday had registered over 31.4 million cases and 967,197 deaths worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In the US, the globe's worst-affected country, there have been nearly 6.9 cases, while the nation's death toll finally exceeded the 200,000 mark yesterday and continues to rise.