Without masks and a vaccine, we could reach Herd Immunity from COVID-19, but deaths would skyrocket. We break down the science of it.
As the U.S. death toll climbed to within a few hundred of 200,000 on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention walked back changed guidance on how the virus spreads.
The CDC had published an updated webpage that acknowledged that “it is possible that COVID-19 may spread through the droplets and airborne particles that are formed when a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.”
The CDC on Monday, however, said that the new guidance was a “draft version” and “posted in error” as the agency updates its “recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2”.
“Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted,” the CDC said.
Meanwhile, California became the fourth state to top 15,000 deaths, joining New York, New Jersey and Texas. And, on the other coast, Maryland restaurants will be permitted to increase indoor dining capacity from 50% to 75% starting at 5 p.m. Monday.
Some significant developments:
- California surpasses 15,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths.
- The U.S. isn’t the only country where COVID-19 restrictions have created unrest: Police in London clashed with protesters Saturday at a rally against coronavirus restrictions.
- An eighth death has been linked to a coronavirus outbreak stemming from a wedding and reception in the northern part of Maine.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 6.8 million cases and 199,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Sunday shows seven-day, new case records were set in Montana, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Virginia and West Virginia. Globally, there have been more than 31 million cases and more than 961,000 fatalities.
📰 What we’re reading: Didn’t hear from contact tracers about that guy coughing on your flight? You might not — even if he had COVID-19.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state
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The CDC said Monday that it had posted in error changed guidance on how COVID-19 spreads, walking back language that acknowledged the virus can spread via “airborne particles.”
“There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet,” the now-removed guidance said on the CDC’s website.
A note at the top of the CDC’s webpage Monday instead said that the language was a draft and the agency was still updating its guidance.
CNN reported the changed guidance had been updated Friday, the same day the agency reversed course on controversial testing guidance. According to the CDC, “indoor environments without good ventilation” increase the risk of infection via suspended droplets and airborne particles.
Countries representing more than 60% of the world’s population have signed on to an agreement to buy coronavirus vaccines once they’re available, although they acknowledged still being billions of dollars short in funding for the purchases.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Monday an initiative known as the COVAX Facility will help bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. The deal unites 64 self-financing economies, including most European countries and Canada, with 92 middle- and low-income economies, adding up to 64% of the global population.
However, several nations that have signed their own bilateral deals with vaccine makers have declined to participate or to use COVAX to secure their own vaccines, including the United States, China, France, Germany and Russia. According to the poverty-focused nonprofit Oxfam, countries making up 13% of the world’s population have reserved 51% of the vaccine doses.
“The fastest route to ending the pandemic and accelerating the global economic response is to ensure some people are vaccinated in all countries, not that all people are vaccinated in some countries,” Tedros said.
Vice President Mike Pence urged governors Monday to put politics aside and join the Trump administration in promoting a future coronavirus vaccine by reassuring the public that it will be safe and effective. Trump has been pushing for a vaccine to be available before Election Day, which public health experts have said is unlikely.
“What we don’t want is people undermining confidence in the process,” Pence said in a private call with governors, the audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
Worries about the pandemic’s continued economic impact prompted markets worldwide to drop as the S&P 500 finished in negative territory for a fourth consecutive day despite a late rally that reduced losses.
The market tumbles began in Asia as soon as trading opened for the week, and they accelerated in Europe on concerns about the possibility of tougher restrictions there to stem rising coronavirus counts. In the U.S., stocks and Treasury yields weakened, while prices sank for oil and other commodities that a healthy economy would demand.
The S&P 500 fell 38.41 points, or 1.2%, to 3,281.06, extending its longest losing streak since a major selloff in February prompted by recession worries.
Nearly 70% of U.S. hotels are currently at half their pre-pandemic staffing of full-time workers, and barring an infusion of government funding, most will lay off more employees.
Seventy-four percent of respondents to an American Hotel & Lodging Association survey of its members said they would have to further reduce their workforce as they await passage of more COVID-19 recovery legislation from Congress. In addition, more than two-thirds of hotels said that at current projected revenue and occupancy levels, without more relief, they could only last six more months.
— David Oliver
Some students in the nation’s largest school district returned to the classroom Monday as New York City schools opened their doors and kicked off their twice delayed reopening plan.
New York is one of the first major school districts in the U.S. to attempt to bring students back to the classroom in some capacity this year. Special education and pre-kindergarten students were the first to return Monday, while elementary, middle and high school students are set to return next week. The city intends to have students spend part of their time in in-person classes and part of their time learning virtually this academic year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio delayed his school reopening plan for a second time last week as the effort has drawn criticism from some parents and teachers who worry about safety and staffing shortages.
The cruise industry announced on Monday mandatory health and safety changes designed to make it safe to sail during the COVID-19 pandemic – ideally with a phased-in U.S. start commencing before the end of the year.
Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise industry’s leading trade organization, and its members, who carry 95% of the world’s oceangoing cruisers, announced a mandatory “Core Elements of Health Protocols,” that includes crew and passenger testing, mask wearing, enhanced cruise ship ventilation, stringent response procedures and shore excursion protocols.
The new protocols will apply to all CLIA member ships impacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current no-sail order, which bans cruising in U.S. waters until at least Oct. 1 for vessels that can carry 250 or more passengers.
– Morgan Hines
New Zealand lifting most lockdown restrictions
New Zealand will lift its remaining lockdown restrictions across the country, except for in Auckland, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday.
New Zealand, which had been heralded for its pandemic response, re-imposed lockdown measures last month after a new outbreak of the coronavirus spread in Auckland. The outbreak now appears to be under control, and health authorities reported no new cases Monday.
Auckland will have some of its restrictions lessened, however, as the 10-person limit on gatherings will increase to 100 on Wednesday and then be phased out in two weeks, Ardern said. “While we have reasonable confidence we are on the right track, there is still a need in Auckland for that cautious approach,” she said.
The United Kingdom’s top doctor said Monday that the country has turned a corner “in a very bad sense” and is now headed in the “wrong direction” with its rates of COVID-19.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the country is facing an explosion in infection rates, with figures suggesting there will be an exponential growth in the disease unless action is taken. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly considering a two-week, nationwide lockdown to stem the outbreak.
Nearly 400,000 people in the U.K. have confirmed COVID-19 cases, and more than 41,000 have died.
Most major events have been canceled, but there are still plenty of celebrations going down. Which leaves many with the decision to go or not to go.
A new treatment program originally intended for geriatric patients has showed promising results for so called “long-haul” COVID-19 patients. Dr. Noah Greenspan, a cardiopulmonary physical therapist and founder of the Pulmonary Wellness Foundation in New York City, said about 750 patients have enrolled in his COVID-19 Bootcamp program and many are reporting progress. Bootcamp patients are asked to walk for four minutes, in two two-minute intervals, increasing a minute each day. The program also incorporates breathing exercises and weight training, which could be as simple as lifting one’s arm over their head for a minute.
“Little by little, it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle and disarming a bomb at the same time,” Greenspan said.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Longtime E! host Giuliana Rancic and special correspondent Vivica A. Fox missed covering the virtual Emmys red carpet show Sunday after both tested positive for COVID-19. They were replaced on the show by Brad Goreski and Nina Parker. The veteran E! host Rancic, 46, released a video message for the “Live From the Red Carpet: The 2020 Emmy Awards,” saying her entire family had tested positive for the virus during preliminary testing for the show. She said she, husband Bill, 49, and 8-year-old son Duke were recovering at home.
Fox, 56, also announced her absence through a statement read by Goreski: “During these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever that we follow all safety and health rules and guidelines to protect ourselves and each other,” the statement said.
– Bryan Alexander
As California’s death count surpassed 15,000 on Sunday, officials said they will not accept unemployment applications for the next two weeks to reduce a backlog. Nearly 600,000 Californians are part of a backlog where their unemployment claims have not been processed by the state’s Employment Development Department for more than 21 days, the state said in a news release. There are also 1 million cases where residents received payments but are awaiting a resolution to their modified claims.
The EDD has been hampered throughout the pandemic by outdated technology at a time when California is seeing an unprecedented wave of unemployment claims. While the department estimates that about 2.1 million residents were out of work statewide last month, California’s unemployment rate fell to 11.4% in August, down from 13.5% in July.
Even a few million doses of vaccine would be sufficient for the U.S. to obtain “80% to 90% of the benefit” of mass vaccinations, White House coronavirus task force member Adm. Brett Giroir said Sunday. Giroir, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said a few million doses could be available in late November or December. Vaccinating nursing home workers, teachers, people with pre-existing conditions and the people surrounding them will be crucial to stemming the COVID-19 tide, Giroir said.
“A vaccine as early as possible, even in a few million doses, will be a godsend in terms of outcomes, hospitalizations, morbidities and deaths,” Giroir said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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