Coronavirus Outbreak: Live Updates and News for Oct. 20, 2020
European leaders intensified efforts to tamp down surging infections, with Ireland enacting severe restrictions. Soaring cases in U.S. battleground states pose a challenge for President Donald Trump two weeks before the election.
India has already seen a peak in the number of new infections and may be able to contain the world’s second-largest outbreak by February, according to a government panel of scientists. The Philippines shortened curfew hours in Manila and eased the stay-at-home order to further reopen its economy.
Discussions to open up travel for business purposes continue to take place in Asia, with the governments of Japan and China reportedly close to an agreement to resume business travel between the countries as soon as this week.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 40.2 million; deaths exceed 1.1 million
- See the latest on the race for a vaccine with Bloomberg’s tracker
- Trading floors are full and masks are off in post-Covid Shanghai
- Fear of job loss haunt half the world’s workers as crisis rages
- CDC issues ‘strong’ call for masks on U.S. airplanes, trains
- How do people catch Covid-19? Here’s what experts say: QuickTake
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Japan, China Near Agreement to Resume Business Travel (7:29 a.m. HK)
The governments of Japan and China will agree to resume business travel between the countries as soon as this week, Yomiuri reports, citing an unidentified Japanese government official.
Those planning long stays will be required to undergo 14 day quarantine, but will be exempt for short stays provided certain conditions are met
Texas Hospitals Strain to Cope in Newest Hotspots (7:27 a.m. HK)
Almost one-fourth of all hospital beds in the El Paso, Texas, area are occupied by virus patients and the region with almost 1 million residents has just 16 intensive-care beds available, state health department data showed.
In the state’s newest hotspots of El Paso, Lubbock, Amarillo and Laredo, hospitals’ virus loads are approaching or already above the 15% threshhold set forth by Governor Greg Abbott for emergency status.
Meanwhile, data lags continue to dog efforts to track the trajectory of the outbreak in the second-largest US state. On Monday, the state disclosed 2,440 previously uncounted cases, a tally which outnumbered the actual figure for new daily detections by more than 7%.
CDC Urges Masks While on Transit (6:41 a.m. HK)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “strong recommendation” for mask-wearing by both passengers and operators on planes, trains, buses and taxis to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Masks should cover a person’s nose and mouth and be worn while traveling in and out of the U.S. as well as within the country, the agency said. Operators should require them for the entire time of travel and deny entry to anyone not wearing one.
The change was reported earlier by the Washington Post, which said it followed airline industry pressure and a request from Vice President Mike Pence. A note at the bottom of the CDC web page states it was last reviewed on Monday.
Ireland to Close Stores, Bars in Lockdown (4:20 p.m. NY)
Ireland’s government imposed some of the most sweeping pandemic restrictions in Europe to rein in the virus. Non-essential stores, bars and restaurants will close their doors for at least six weeks, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said. Travel will be further restricted, with people told to stay within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from home.
“These are the toughest of times,” Martin said in a televised address in Dublin.
Like the rest of Europe, Ireland is grappling with a new surge as the winter months approach. The 14-day incidence of cases per 100,000 of population has surged to about 240 from 88 at the start of October.
California to Review Vaccine Before Distribution (4 p.m. NY)
California will require a panel of health experts to review any coronavirus vaccine before allowing it to be distributed to the state’s 40 million residents, Governor Gavin Newsom said. The 11-member panel — which includes scientists and doctors from California universities and public-health departments — will verify the safety and efficacy of any shot even after it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“This vaccine will move at the speed of trust,” Newsom said at a briefing.
The state also is working on guidelines to ensure the equitable distribution of what’s expected to be a limited early supply of the vaccine, Newsom said, noting that the “overwhelming majority” of people won’t see shots readily available until well into 2021.
While the race to develop a vaccine has become a political issue, Newsom said the group will review the shot regardless of the outcome of the November presidential election.
Cases Rise in Election Battlegrounds (1:50 p.m. NY)
The Covid-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting some crucial voters two weeks before Election Day, costing American lives and potentially hurting President Donald Trump, who has received overwhelmingly poor grades from Democrats and independent voters on his virus response.
Wisconsin is the most extreme example, a swing state that Trump won in 2016 that now has America’s fourth-worst outbreak by per-capita cases in the past week. Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan have all seen difficult stretches, and cases have been creeping back up in recent weeks.
In North Carolina, counties with large Black communities — which helped former President Barack Obama win the state in 2008 and 2012 — are facing their hardest stretch of the pandemic.
WHO Says Lack of Quarantine Spurred Cases (12:46 p.m. NY)
Officials at the World Health Organization reiterated the importance of adhering to quarantine rules for those who test positive and those who have come in contact with a positive case, as Europe faces a surge in numbers.
“One thing that could really change the game here, it’s making sure each and every contact of a confirmed case is in quarantine for the appropriate period of time so as to break chains of transmission,” Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program, said at a media briefing. “I do not believe that has occurred systematically anywhere, and in particular in countries that are experiencing large increases now.”
The question for Europe is how to get the case numbers back to manageable numbers again, in order to fully re-engage on case identification, contact tracing and full quarantine of contacts, Ryan said.
Trump Complains About Fauci (12:30 p.m. NY)
President Donald Trump complained to his campaign staff about the government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, including him among people he considers “idiots,” but said he couldn’t fire him because of public perception.
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Trump said Monday in a call intended to boost morale at a campaign running well behind his challenger, Joe Biden. Trump’s campaign invited reporters to listen.
“Anytime he goes on television” there’s a “bomb,” Trump said, adding that if he fired Fauci it would be a “bigger bomb.”
India May Contain Spread by February, Panel Says (11:40 a.m. NY)
India has already seen a peak in the number of new coronavirus infections and may be able to contain the world’s second-largest outbreak by February, according to a government panel of scientists that attributed a recent slowdown to a harsh national lockdown earlier this year.
In a presentation, the Covid-19 Supermodel Committee led by M. Vidyasagar said a peak in active cases came in late September. The scientists looked at a number of hypothetical scenarios where lockdowns had been avoided or delayed. They concluded that the restrictions imposed in March saved “a lot more misery and lives” and signaled that Covid-19 could be tamed in a few months.
Italy Urges Mayors to Shut Piazzas (11:25 a.m. NY)
Italy’s coronavirus cases declined on Monday, falling to 9,338, compared with a daily record of 11,705 the previous day. Patients in intensive-care units rose by 47 to 797, compared with an early April peak of more than 4,000.
The Italian government’s new decree — approved on Sunday night only five days after a previous package — urged mayors to close piazzas and streets at 9 p.m. to stop crowds gathering, and imposed a maximum of six people per table at restaurants, which must close at midnight. Amateur and school competitions for contact sports are banned.
Philippines Cuts Curfew Hours (10:35 a.m. NY)
The Philippines shortened curfew hours in Manila and eased the stay-at-home order to further reopen its economy.
The curfew in most of the capital region will now be from midnight to 4 a.m., having previously been from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Interior Secretary Eduardo Anosaid in a televised briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday.
Wales to Try ‘Fire-Break’ Lockdown (8:15 a.m. NY)
The government of Wales announced a two-week lockdown designed to curb the spread of coronavirus, from Oct. 23 to Nov. 9. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home, with all non-essential retail outlets closing. “A fire-break period is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer and more damaging lockdown,” said Drakeford.
Iran Deaths Hit Record (7:05 a.m. NY)
Iran reported its highest number of daily deaths, with 337 fatalities. That’s fifth time in two weeks that Iran has reported a record number of deaths. The number of cases rose to 534,631 with 4,251 new infections, the Health Ministry said.
— With assistance by Mark Schoifet