Coronavirus USA: news summary for Tuesday 29 September

Coronavirus USA live updates: cases, deaths and stimulus checks, latest news

Covid-19 US updates: 29 September

US coronavirus latest: 15:30 PT / 16:30 ET on Tuesday 29 September (22:30 CEST)

Latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide

Cases: 33,477,825
Deaths: 1,003,922
Recoveries: 23,209,109

US

Cases: 7,176,111
Deaths: 205,676
Recoveries: 2,794,608

Coronavirus articles

Related articles that may be of interest:

US judge weighs whether to drop criminal case against ex-Trump adviser Flynn

(Reuters) A federal judge on Tuesday weighed whether to grant a request by the Justice Department to dismiss a criminal charge against President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn in a highly anticipated court hearing.

The hearing pits the Justice Department and Flynn's defense attorneys against John Gleeson, a former trial judge who was tapped by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan to argue against the government's position that the case should be dropped.

"I'm going to spend some time essentially capturing the essence of the opening arguments," Sullivan said at the outset of the hearing.

After Sullivan spent roughly an hour spelling out the history of the case and recapping each side's arguments, he was forced to delay the proceedings being conducted remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic after one of the prosecutor's microphones stopped working properly.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Russian interference in the 2016 US election to boost Trump’s candidacy.

Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about his conversations before Trump took office with Sergey Kislyak, who was then Russia's ambassador to the United States, concerning US sanctions imposed on Russia under President Barack Obama.

Trump vs Biden: how and where to watch tonight's presidential debate

The coronavirus pandemic has, unsurprisingly, been chosen as one of the six topics up for discussion in tonight's first debate between US presidential election candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Here's a guide on how you can follow the debate, which gets underway at 21:00 ET:

Retail sector

Coronavirus closures in hard-hit retail sector 

People in New York walk past the department store Century 21, which has declared bankruptcy and is closing because of the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis. 

New York City has seen a massive drop in tourism and large declines in the retail sector amid the pandemic, leading many businesses to shut their doors. 

(Photo: EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE)

De Blasio face masks

NY to fine people who refuse to wear mask, says mayor

New York City will impose fines on people who refuse to wear a face covering as the rate of positive tests for the coronavirus climbed above 3% for the first time in months, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.

Officials will first offer free masks to those caught not wearing one. If the person refuses, they will face an unspecified fine, de Blasio told reporters.

"Our goal, of course, is to give everyone a free face mask," de Blasio said. "We don't want to fine people, but if we have to we will."

(Text: Reuters; photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

Pelosi, Mnuchin renew talks after release of Democrat aid proposal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke for just under an hour on Tuesday morning, after Democrats released a $2.2tn proposed coronavirus stimulus bill on Monday in a bid to kick-start talks over an aid package.

Relief-bill negotiations between Democratic congressional chiefs and White House leaders stalled in early August, with the two sides well apart on their desired valuations of a fifth piece of economic aid legislation amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Mnuchin and his fellow White House negotiator, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have signalled a willingness to spend no more than around $1.5tn on a relief bill.

Pelosi and Mnuchin had a telephone conversation lasting for 50 minutes, said Drew Hammill, the House speaker's deputy chief of staff. She added that the pair are due to talk again on Wednesday.

Over 600,000 confirmed cases of children with Covid-19 in the U.S.

A survey compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association has shown that a total of 624,890 child cases of Covid-19 were reported in the United States from the start of the pandemic up until 24 September. The survey looked at data published on the health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam,

It added that "Covid-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children and severe illness among children is rare". A total of25 states and New York City reported hospitalizations by age. "Children were 0.5%-3.7% of total reported hospitalizations, and between 0.2%-7.9% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in hospitalization".

Ko'olau Golf Course set to close for good due to Covid-19

Ko’olau Golf Course in Kaneohe, Hawaii, will close for good on Wednesday, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reports. The golf course saw income plummet during the coronavirus crisis and has decided to cut its loses. The 18-hole course on the island of O’ahu opened in 1992.

“The current economic conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for our golf course operator to continue at the Koolau Golf Course,” said Pastor Dan Chun, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church, in a statement. “While we are disappointed that the golf course will be shutting down, we are looking forward to see what God has in store for the property next.”

The Biden-Trump debate: what is the format and what topics will be covered?

Democrat candidate Joe Biden and current US president Donald Trump go head-to-head in the in the first live televised debate on Tuesday night at 21:00 (ET).

wall st

U.S. goods trade deficit widens in August

The United States' trade deficit in goods widened in August, with imports rising as businesses rebuild inventories which were depleted when the Covid-19 pandemic upended the flow of goods.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the goods trade gap increased 3.5% to $82.9 billion last month. Imports of goods rose 3.1% to $201.3 billion, eclipsing a 2.8% increase in goods exports to $118.3 billion.

New York businesses counting cost of Covid-19 crisis

Almost 6,000 businesses in New York City were forced to close for good during the Coronavirus crisis, between 1 March and 11 September, while bankruptcies were up by 40%, Bloomberg reports. The situation is set to get even worse when temperatures drop and many businesses cannot trade outside, coupled with dwindling public and private loans which might have helped them get through the summer.

As many as one third of New York’s 230,000 businesses could cease to exist as a result of the pandemic, according to the Partnership for New York City.

CDC pushed to play down Covid-19 risks so schools could reopen

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was put under pressure to play down the risks involved in reopening schools for in-person classes, according to former adviser to vice-president Mike Pence, Olivia Troye. In an interview with CNN, Troye, explained, "Unfortunately, this was an effort, at times where I would get blindsided; where there would be junior staffers being tasked to find different data for charts to show that the virus wasn't as bad for certain populations, ages or demographics. I think you've seen from the beginning the President's narrative has been 'everything's fine. Everything's ok. Time to get back to normal. Let's get the economy going again". 

Tedros: "Never too late to fight back"

The World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus penned a piece in today's Independent as the death toll from the virus passes the 1 million mark globally. 

Tedros Independent editorial 

Redfield

CDC director contradicts Trump on coronavirus: 'We're nowhere near the end' 

​​​​​​The head of a top U.S.government health agency gave a grim assessment of the coronavirus pandemic that contradicts that of President Donald Trump, saying "We're nowhere near the end," NBC News reported on Monday.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who has been rebuked by Trump for less-rosy assessments of the coronavirus recovery, also expressed concern that Trump's late addition to the coronavirus task force, Dr. Scott Atlas, is sharing inaccurate information with the president.

"Everything he says is false," Redfield said in a telephone call Friday on a plane from Atlanta to Washington, NBC reported. Redfield later told NBC the threat from the coronavirus pandemic was far from over, contradicting Trump's assertion as he seeks re-election Nov. 3 that the country was "rounding the corner."

vaccine

When will a vaccine be ready?

This interactive guide from The Guardian has the latest state of play on a Covid-19 vaccine.

WHO announces 120 million affordable and rapid Covid-19 tests

​​​​​​World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced an agreement between the health agency, test manufacturers and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make 120 million of the easy-to-use, rapid diagnostic tests available to low and middle-income countries around the world over the next six months

Covid

New U.S. Covid-19 cases rise in 27 states for two straight

The number of new Covid-19 cases in the United States has risen for two weeks in a row in 27 out of 50 states, with North Carolina and New Mexico both reporting increases above 50% last week, according to a Reuters analysis.

The United States recorded 316,000 new cases in the week ended Sept. 27, up 10% from the previous seven days and the highest in six weeks, according to the analysis of state and county data.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told ABC News that the country was "not in a good place."

"There are states that are starting to show (an) uptick in cases and even some increases in hospitalizations in some states. And, I hope not, but we very well might start seeing increases in deaths," he said, without naming the states.

North Carolina reported a 60% jump in new cases to 13,799 last week, while New Mexico saw new infections rise 55% to 1,265. Texas also reported a 60% jump in new cases to 49,559, though that included a backlog of several thousand cases.

Dollar

Dollar steadies as markets await Trump-Biden debate

The dollar was steady against a basket of currencies on Tuesday as traders looked out to the first U.S. presidential debate and developments on the U.S. stimulus bill.

The dollar index stood unchanged at 94.150, drifting away from a two-month high of 94.745 reached last week, as stock markets made solid gains partly on upbeat China data with Wall Street rebounding following last week's selloff.

All eyes are on the first U.S. presidential election debate where Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump will square off later in the day (Wednesday 0100 GMT).

United

U.S. House Covid-19 aid proposal gives airlines bailout hope, but chances

A $2.2 trillion draft bill for coronavirus aid unveiled by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives late on Monday gave airlines some hope for a second bailout before tens of thousands of layoffs occur on Thursday, although tough hurdles remained.

"I'm hopeful. I'm not necessarily optimistic," Chief Executive Nicholas Calio of trade group Airlines for America told "PBS NewsHour" in an interview.

Washington insiders said passage by Thursday, when an initial $25 billion that protected airline jobs through September expires, was unlikely, and the airline group did not detail the congressional action it hoped to see.

Tampa Bay Lightning beat Stars to win Stanley Cup for second time

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history with a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Monday.

Global deaths pass 1,000,000

According to figures from Johns Hopkins University more than one million people have now died from Covid-19. As of 20:50 ET the total death toll stood at 1,000,555. 

The novel coronavirus began to spread in Wuhan, China in December 2019, with the first identified case thought to be a 55-year-old man who became ill on or around 17 November, according to Chinese government data seen by the South China Morning Post. The WHO lists the first identified patient as being confirmed on December 8, though the organisation relies on governmental data rather than tracking the data itself. 

The first death from coronavirus was announced by China on 11 January 2020. The individual was a 61-year-old man who had purchased items from the seafood market linked to the initial outbreak. He was admitted to hospital and died of heart failure on January 9. 

The disease has claimed lives in almost every country on the planet with only a handful of nations reporting having cases but no deaths, including Timor-Leste, Seychelles, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Mongolia, Laos, the Holy See, Cambodia and Bhutan.

There are still 12 countries that report they have had no cases, most of them Pacific Islands, such as Kiritbati, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, or states where reporting may be suspect, including North Korea and Turkmenistan.

In terms of overall deaths, the US has been worst hit with 205,031 deaths, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico, the UK and Italy. 

Worryingly there are no signs the global death rate is slowing, and many countries who considered they had their outbreaks under control are once again seeing surging infections. 

 The number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 is topping 25% in several states in the U.S. Midwest as cases and hospitalizations also surge in the region, according to a Reuters analysis.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States has risen for two weeks in a row in 27 out of 50 states, with North Carolina and New Mexico both reporting increases above 50% last week, according to a Reuters analysis.

France’s increase of new COVID-19 cases sharply decelerated on Monday, as is always the case on that day given there are fewer tests conducted on Sundays, but hospitalisations and deaths linked to the disease shot up again.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday loosened COVID-19-related capacity restrictions for businesses such as bars, restaurants and health clubs, a move that will go into effect later this week.

 The percentage of COVID-19 tests taken in New York state that have come back positive has inched up to 1.5%, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday, a worrisome trend for the former epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday that Democratic lawmakers unveiled a new, $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which she said was a compromise measure that reduces the costs of the economic aid.

When did the coronavirus first reach Europe and the US?

The New Scientist on a study claiming that cases were on the rise in the US by 22 December. Remember, Covid-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The study is based on people going to clinics in LA with a cough in the run up to Christmas.

On 13 January, the first case outside China was reported in Thailand. On 21 January, the US reported its first case and on 24 January, France reported three, the first in Europe. 

From the New Scientist: “This, at least, is what was known at the time. But it can take up to two weeks for covid-19 symptoms to appear and many infected people don’t have symptoms at all.

In addition, when countries did start testing, many initially limited it to people who had come from China recently. If the virus had already begun spreading, any early local cases would have been missed. “It is certain there were many cases we did not see,” says Lauren Ancel Meyers at the University of Texas at Austin.”

Even so, it looks like the most likely cause of those coughs in LA in December 2019 was other respiratory diseases, and the discrepancy between official figures and the reality comes later - it’s quite possible that there were many more cases in the US by March than were being reported. One estimate reckons 9,000 cases in Seattle by 9 March, when only 245 had been reported. 

One year in jail for holding parties amid Covid-19 pandemic

42-year-old Shawn Marshall Myers held two big parties back in March in violation of the Maryland's order against large gatherings. There were about 50 people at each of the two parties - he disbanded the first but refused to cancel the second, eventually being taken into custody. He was also fined $5,000. 

Covid-19 cases rising across 27 states

Things are not looking good as we head into fall, with the number of new Covid-19 cases rising for two weeks in a row in 27 out of 50 states, according to a Reuters analysis. North Carolina and New Mexico reported increases above 50% last week. 

For the week ending 27 September, there were 316,000 new cases in the country, up 10% from the prior week. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News that states are seeing an “uptick” n cases, there are increases in hospitalisations “in some states” and, while saying he hoped it would not be the case, there was a possibility that the death rate would start to increase in certain locations. 

Stimulus check deadline approaching

As talks continue for a new relief bill, here's when and how to register for coronavirus relief payments if you don't normally file tax returns.

Coronavirus relief bill: what's the state of play?

Democratic congressional leaders and White House chiefs have said they are to restart negotiations over a coronavirus economic stimulus bill.

US "not in a good place", says Dr Fauci

In case you missed it, Dr Anthony Fauci told ABC’s Good Morning America that the US “is not in a good place” in its battle with the coronavirus, with the country averaging more than 40,000 new cases a day. 

This is some four times higher than the figure of 10,000 daily cases which, according to Dr Fauci, the US needs to drop to if it is to get the pandemic under control.

"There are states that are starting to show an uptick in cases and even some increase in hospitalizations in some states," the US' top infectious disease expert said on Monday. 

"And I hope not, but we very might well start seeing increases in deaths. That’s really something that I had discussed some time ago as something you don’t want to be in a position like that as the weather starts getting cold."

A thread on vaccines

If you're keen to know more about the types of vaccines being developed for Covid-19, how they work and how the studies are progressing on them you shouldn't miss this absolute beast of a twitter thread - all 138 tweets of it - from Florian Krammer (who is a Professor at the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai).

We won't spoil the final tweet, but he does say at the end which vaccine he personally would be keenest to take. 

Covid-19 death toll is likely an "underestimate", says WHO

The global death toll from the coronavirus is just a few hundred away from one million right now, however the WHO says the figure is almost certainly lower than the real total. 

“When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly,” WHO director, Mike Ryan said. “But I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of Covid.”

The US has accounted for more than 20% of the global death toll.

It seems pretty clear that both confirmed cases of covid-19 and deaths from covid-19 will be far below the reality, with the former likely very far below given the number of asymptomatic cases, or cases with very mild symptoms, and the difficulties getting tested for many people in a lot of places around the world, even with severe symptoms. 

Government to send out millions of Covid-19 tests in a bid to reopen schools through 12th grade

The federal government will start distributing millions of rapid coronavirus tests to states this week, according to reports. 

The tests will be sent to states based on their population size and can be used as governors see fit, but the administration is urging them to use the tests to reopen schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. 

A senior administration source told The Associated Press that 6.5 million tests will go out this week and that a total of 100 million tests will be distributed to governors over the next several weeks.

Flags

Opening photo

The photo for this live feed was taken in the yard of Mike Labbe in Grafton, Massachusetts. He started planting flags for each person who died from Covid-19 in the state. There are now over 8,000 flags.

US coronavirus latest news 

Welcome to our US-focused coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic for Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 September.

Worldwide there have now been over 33 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with very close to one million deaths. 

In the US, there have been over 7.1 million cases and over 205,000 deaths. 

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