Coronavirus USA: news summary for Thursday 25 September

Coronavirus USA: latest news - 24 September

US coronavirus latest: 1:30 PT / 17:30 ET on Thursday 24 September (23:30 CEST)

Latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide

Cases: 32,059,999
Deaths: 979,690
Recoveries: 22,028,154

US

Cases: 6,966,639
Deaths: 202,563
Recoveries: 2,670,256

Coronavirus-related stories you might be interested in:

New home sales crush expectations, but the supply is running out

“Housing demand is robust but supply is not, and this imbalance will inevitably harm affordability and hinder ownership opportunities,” said Lawrence Yun, the Realtors’ chief economist.

“To assure broad gains in homeownership, more new homes need to be constructed.”

Chinese company targets early 2021 for vaccine distribution

Yin Weidong, the CEO of SinoVac, vowed to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration to sell CoronaVac in the United States if it passes its third and final round of testing in humans. Yin said he personally has been given the experimental vaccine.

"At the very beginning, our strategy was designed for China and for Wuhan. Soon after that in June and July we adjusted our strategy, that is to face the world," Yin said, referring to the Chinese city where the virus first emerged.

Trump's coronavirus report card

Stanford professor Michael McFaul's report card for the President of the United States doesn't make for happy reading. And in topic 15, his management of Covid-19 is assessed.

The pandemic: F+.

'Trump has grossly mishandled the domestic response to the novel coronavirus, resulting already in more than 200,000 deaths, and did next to nothing to organize a global effort. The United States has provided some humanitarian assistance to other countries.'

JetBlue CEO supports  Payroll Support Program

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, told CNBC that he supports the extension of the Payroll Support Program as tens of thousands of airline workers face furloughs in October.

“The question is really, is another extension of the Payroll Support Program, is it a bridge to nowhere or is it a bridge to somewhere? And I passionately feel it’s a bridge to somewhere,” he said. 

McConnell vows orderly transition of power after U.S. election

US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said there would be an "orderly" transition following the 3 November presidential election, one day after Trump declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

"The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792," McConnell tweeted.

Italy's successful coronavirus response

New daily cases in Italy are at 1,535 compared with more than 10,000 new cases in Spain and France...

Zlatan Ibrahimovic positive for coronavirus

Former LA Galaxy player Zlatan Ibrahimovic has tested positive for coronavirus. Zlatan, who left the MLS to play for AC Milan in Italy, is the latest of several high-profile sports star to test postivie for Covid-19...

France reports over 1,000 people in ICU due to coronavirus

The French health ministry reported on Thursday that number of people in intensive care due to the coronavirus jumped over 1,000 for the first time since June 8. The ministry also said that the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital was up by 136 to 5,932. (Reuters)

CEOs look negatively on remote working

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a rapid surge in remote working, however CEOs generally see it as a negative despite the financial savings it can bring. 

“I don’t see any positives. Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative.”.....

US records over 1,000 new deaths

The US registered an additional 1,098 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, which is lower than the country's record set on April 17, when there were 2,666 new fatalities reported. 

Iran's coronavirus death toll rises above 25,000 - health ministry

Iran's death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 175 to 25,015 on Thursday, the highest in the Middle East, with the total number of identified cases spiking to 436,319 in the country, according to health ministry.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 3,521 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours in Iran.

Iran's health officials have voiced alarm over a surge in infections, urging the nation to respect health protocols to control the spread of the disease. President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday that some restrictions might be reinstated in the worst-hit provinces, Iranian media reported. (Reuters)

Breonna Taylor case: what is ‘wanton endangerment’ in the first degree?

It’s the charge that the Louisvill grand jury handed down to one of the three officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor Wednesday, but what is Wanton Endangerment, and what will it mean for Brett Hankison if convicted? Read more...

More than $145m lost to coronavirus-related fraud

The Federal Trade Commission has estimated that Americans have lost more than  $145 million to coronavirus-related fraud, with more then 200,000 complaints filed since the onset of the pandemic. 

“I’m not shocked that scams have been on the rise,” said Lucy Baker, a consumer defense associate at the United States Public Interest Research Group (via NYT).

"Scammers love natural disasters, especially in this environment where everyone is vulnerable.”

Pompeo

Pompeo warns local US politicians to be alert to Chinese 'influence and espionage'

(Reuters) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday warned US politicians at the state and local level to be vigilant around Chinese diplomats who he said could be trying to woo them as part of Beijing's propaganda and espionage campaign.

Speaking in the Wisconsin state capitol, Pompeo said the State Department was reviewing the activities of the US-China Friendship Association and the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification over suspicions they are trying to influence US schools, business groups and local politicians.

The two groups are linked to China's United Front Work Department, an organ of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, he said.

"Know that when you are approached by a Chinese diplomat, it is likely not in the spirit of cooperation or friendship," Pompeo said, warning of the Chinese Communist Party's "influence and espionage campaigns" even at the municipal level. 

"The federal government can’t police every bit of this predatory and coercive behavior. We need your help..Protecting American interests requires vigilance, vigilance that starts with you – and all state legislators, regardless of party," he said.

Most Americans to be vaccinated for Covid-19 by July, CDC chief expects

(Reuters) A top US health official told a US Senate committee on Wednesday that he expects Covid-19 vaccinations to take place over many months and that most Americans could be vaccinated by July of 2021 at the latest.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Robert Redfield said he expects there to be about 700 million doses of vaccines available by late March or April, enough for 350 million people.

"I think that's going to take us April, May, June, you know, possibly July, to get the entire American public completely vaccinated," Redfield told the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Don

Trump says he thinks 2020 election will end up at Supreme Court

(Reuters) Donald Trump said on Wednesday he thinks the 2020 election will end up at the US Supreme Court, adding that is why it was important to have nine justices.

Trump, speaking at an event at the White House, said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, would not even have to hold a hearing for the Supreme Court nominee and that the process would go quickly.

"I think this will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it's very important that we have nine justices," Trump said when asked if a full complement of justices was needed to handle any challenges to the 3 November election between him and Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump has cast doubt on the integrity of the election, saying without evidence that the use of mail-in balloting during the coronavirus would lead to fraud.

"This scam that the Democrats are pulling, it's a scam, the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court, and I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation," he said.

Only one previous US presidential election, the 2000 contest between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore, had its outcome determined by the Supreme Court.

NYC

Bubble tents are set up outside Cafe Du Soliel following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the Manhattan borough of New York City, September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Trump says may block stricter FDA guidelines for Covid-19 vaccine

(Reuters) US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he may or may not approve any new, more stringent FDA standards for an emergency authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine, saying such a proposal would appear political.

Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, could be ready for distribution ahead of the 3 November presidential election.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday the US Food and Drug Administration would issue the guidance to boost transparency and public trust as health experts have become increasingly concerned the Trump administration might be interfering in the approval process to rush out a vaccine.

Trump, however, questioned why a vaccine would need to be delayed and said such a proposal by the FDA would appear to be politically-driven.

"We're looking at that and that has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it," Trump told a White House news conference, when asked about the Post report. "That sounds like a political move. Because when you have Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, these great companies,coming up with the vaccines, and they've done testing and everything else, I'm saying why would they have to be adding great length to the process."

PLANE

White House will consider executive action to help airlines

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Wednesday the Trump administration will consider executive action to help airlines hurt by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We would like very much to help the airlines," Kudlow told reporters at the White House. "We'll see what has to be done there with respect to possible legislation or even possibly with respect to executive administrative action. We'll take a look on that."

Misinformation costs lives, says WHO chief

Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged countries to clamp down on false information and fake news in the battle against Covid-19. In a statement on Wednesday, the WHO said: "Without the appropriate trust and correct information, diagnostic tests go unused, immunization campaigns (or campaigns to promote effective vaccines) will not meet their targets, and the virus will continue to thrive.

"Furthermore, disinformation is polarizing public debate on topics related to Covid-19; amplifying hate speech; heightening the risk of conflict, violence and human rights violations; and threatening long-terms prospects for advancing democracy, human rights and social cohesion". 

Cruise holidays in the coronavirus pandemic

Good Morning America's Maggie Rulli boarded the MSC Grandiosa in Genoa, Italy to discover what cruise travel is like during the coronavirus era. "When you show up to the terminal you're met by health care workers in hazmat suits. And just like you would go through a metal detector before boarding, everyone has to get their Covid-19 test. Results take around 60 minutes," she explained. "Faces masks and social distancing are mandatory in public areas.  The medical facilities have extra doctors, ventilators, and isolation units". 

Fauci: Some Covid-19 patients suffer heart inflammation

Dr. Anthony Fauci has revealed some lesser-known side effects which have been seen among some long-term Covid-19 patients. Even apparently asymptomatic patients can suffer long-term damage to organs from the virus. 

"A disturbing number of individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 and are apparently asymptomatic have been found to have inflammation of the heart," Fauci said. Another side effect is an inability to concentrate due to "cognitive abnormalities"..

Four New York neighborhoods make up 20% of city's coronavirus cases

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned that urgent action is needed to address the surge in psotive Covid-19 cases that are affecting multiple neighborhoods simultaneously.

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.

Covid-19 infection is 20 times more likely indoors than outdoors

Dr. Blythe Adamson, a former member of the White House coronavirus task force, told GMA3 on Wednesday, "One of things that we just learned recently and published in a new study today in Clinical and Infectious Diseases is that being indoors, you're 20 times more likely to catch Covid-19 from an infectious person than if you were around them outdoors," she explained. "None of us wanted to see 200,000 deaths and projections of 400,000 deaths by the end of the year but it is going to require so much endurance in all of these individual choices we are making". 

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 will be able to operate at full capacity under the Stage 5 rules while there will be no restrictions at gyms and large events like sports, fairs and festivals. People are advised to maintain social distancing and face masks must still be worn.

Why has Louisville declared a state of emergency?

A decision on criminal charges from the grand jury has not yet been announced, but the city’s Mayor has already declared a state of emergency. Why?

More information here:

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Getting through to a real human person when calling the IRS Customer Service hotline is not easy, here’s how you can avoid talking to an automated service.

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More contagious strain of Covid-19 now dominates

The first study to analyze the structure of the novel coronavirus from two waves of infection in a major city found that a more contagious strain dominates recent samples, researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital said on Wednesday.

They examined more than 5,000 genomes from viruses recovered in the earliest phase of the pandemic in Houston, an ethnically diverse city of 7 million, and from an ongoing more recent wave of infections. The study, which has not yet been reviewed by outside experts, found that nearly all strains in the second wave had a mutation, known as D614G, which has been shown to increase the number of “spikes” on the crown-shaped virus.

The spikes are what allow the virus to bind to and infect cells, increasing the ability of the mutated virus to infect cells. The Houston researchers said patients infected with the variant strain had significantly higher amounts of the virus on initial diagnosis. But they found little evidence that mutations in the virus have made it deadlier, noting that severity of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, was more strongly linked to patients' underlying medical conditions and genetics.

They also said some regions of the spike protein - the primary target of coronavirus vaccines now in development - showed several mutations, possibly indicating that the virus is changing in order to evade the body's immune response. Previous studies have shown that the coronavirus is mutating and evolving as it adapts to its human hosts.

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 31.7 million cases and 973,443 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 earlier this week and continues to rise.

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