HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects. Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.) COVID-19 Patients Are Twice As Likely To Have Eaten In
HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.
Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)
A monthlong investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that a sampling of adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were roughly twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant within the two weeks before the onset of illness than those who tested negative for the virus.
The findings, published Friday, follow a review of symptomatic outpatients who sought testing at 11 U.S. health care facilities during the month of July. The review included 154 symptomatic participants who tested positive for the virus and 160 control participants who were symptomatic but tested negative.
Participants were not asked as part of the survey whether they had dined indoors or outdoors.
The report did not find a significant difference in positivity rate when it came to the patients who participated in activities other than dining at a restaurant, such as going shopping, going to a gym or office or using public transportation.
Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, compared to other activities such as shopping, the study concluded.
“Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to places that offer on-site eating or drinking, might be important risk factors for acquiring COVID-19,” the CDC’s report states. “As communities reopen, efforts to reduce possible exposures at locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.”
— Nina Golgowski
More than 5.6 million students in Italy are expected to return to their desks on Monday for face-to-face school lessons after a six-month shutdown, the longest in Europe.
The Italian government shut the nation’s schools in early March after the country found itself at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. But efforts to make classrooms safe again have been mired in controversy.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose son will also start school on Monday, admitted that “at the beginning, there are going to be problems” with the resumption of classes, HuffPost Italy reported.
Many of the new 2.4 million single desks needed to guarantee social distancing have failed to arrive on time, teachers unions say, while thousands of teaching positions remain vacant and older staffers have expressed concerns about the heightened risks they face.
Fifty-nine percent of all primary and secondary school teachers in Italy are over the age of 50, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, making the education system particularly vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks.
More than 35,000 people have died of COVID-19, the largest death toll in the European Union, and the recent increase in new cases has raised fears of a second wave.
— James Martin
The rate of coronavirus cases and deaths nationwide has declined in recent days, but the U.S. is far from out of the woods, according to Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
“We will, with the colleges and universities opening, with the spillover that’s occurring with even more pandemic fatigue, … we’re going to see these numbers grow substantially,” Osterholm said.
President Donald Trump said a vaccine could be ready as early as November, but Osterholm said any “meaningful” vaccine likely won’t be available to the majority of Americans until the beginning of 2021.
“And then it’s still going to take us months to vaccinate the population of just this country,” Osterholm said. “We really have another 12 to 14 months of a really hard road ahead of us,” he added. “And that’s what I’m concerned about today. … What is our national plan? We don’t have one.”
— Hayley Miller
The rate of reproduction of the coronavirus — called the R rate in the U.K. or R-naught in the U.S. — has risen dramatically above 1.0 across most of the United Kingdom and could be as high as 1.7, British scientists said Friday.
Official estimates by U.K. government scientists put the key figure — which shows how quickly the virus is spreading — between 1.0 and 1.2 across the whole of the country.
An R rate above 1.0 is likely to spark fresh demands for new lockdown measures in Britain as it means that the pandemic is growing rather than shrinking, HuffPost UK reported.
Separate research also suggested that coronavirus cases in England were doubling every seven to eight days at the beginning of September, with the highest rates among 18- to 24-year-olds.
“What we are seeing is evidence of an epidemic in the community and not a result of increased testing capacity,” said Professor Paul Elliott from the School of Public Health. “This is a critical time, and it’s vital that the public, our health system and policymakers are aware of the situation as we cannot afford complacency.”
It comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the legal limit on social gatherings in England would be cut from 30 to six from Monday.
The U.K. reported 3,539 new cases on Friday – the highest in almost four months. The rise brings the total number of people in the U.K. infected with COVID-19 during the pandemic to 361,677.
— Rachel Wearmouth and James Martin
Starting Saturday, election officials in Rhode Island will send mail-in ballot applications to all active registered voters, joining a growing number of states that are automatically sending ballot applications to active registered voters ballots to make voting easier during the pandemic.
A handful of states have gone even further: California, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey and Vermont are automatically sending the ballots themselves to all active, registered voters.
CORRECTION: This entry previously misstated that Rhode Island would automatically mail ballots, rather than ballot applications, to all active registered voters.
— Marina Fang
The U.K. government should pause its “headlong rush” to persuade people to go back to work in their offices, according to one of Britain’s leading epidemiologists.
The U.K announced on Wednesday that social gatherings of more than six people will be outlawed in England starting on Monday, but the new rules do not apply to workplaces. Senior minister Dominic Raab claimed on Sunday that working from home was “damaging the economy.”
However, Professor Neil Ferguson, who devised the model of infection that persuaded the British government to introduce a national lockdown in March, warned on Thursday that surging case numbers in the past two weeks don’t take into account the opening of schools.
“Certainly I think we should hesitate and maybe pause at the headlong rush to get everybody back into offices. But some people have to work and I completely understand the concerns in many quarters that everybody working at home has an economic impact, particularly on city centers,” Ferguson said, per HuffPost UK.
On Wednesday, 2,659 positive cases were confirmed across the U.K., taking the total up to 355,219. Positive results have increased from 12.5 per 100,000 people to 19.7 per 100,000 in the last week, with a particular rise in infections among young people.
— Ned Simons
“No new cases reported today is good news, but the reality is that our daily numbers will continue to fluctuate as long as there is no vaccine available,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.
Nez noted that some of the confirmed cases in the last week stemmed from family gatherings on Navajo Nation— the largest and most populous Native American reservation in the U.S. — and urged residents to refrain from hosting such events.
“I am confident that we, the Navajo people, can minimize the impacts of the upcoming flu season by continuing to wear your masks, wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, and avoid large crowds,” he said. “We know how to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but we have to be disciplined enough to continue practicing those safety measures on a daily basis.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 9,903 people on the Navajo Nation had tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 527 of those people have died, according to the Navajo Department of Health.
― Hayley Miller
Joe Biden castigated President Donald Trump over the damning comments he reportedly made about the coronavirus pandemic in recording excerpts released Wednesday.
“He knew how deadly it was. It was much more deadly than the flu. He knew and purposely played it down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said at an event for the UAW International Union. “Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.”
While Biden was en route to Michigan for the campaign event, media outlets reported excerpts of journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book on Trump, who reportedly told Woodward in March that he was intentionally playing down the severity of the pandemic.
Biden said he was briefed on the news when he landed for Wednesday’s event.
“He had the information. He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose,” Biden told union workers before his prepared remarks.
“How many families are missing loved ones at their dinner table tonight because of his failures? It’s beyond despicable,” Biden said. “It’s a dereliction of duties and disgrace.”
— Carla Russo
At the time, Trump repeatedly publicly downplayed the virus as no more dangerous than the flu.
The revelation is one of many in journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, “Rage,” for which Trump granted Woodward 18 on-the-record interviews.
“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call with Woodward. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
“This is deadly stuff,” he repeated.
— Ryan Grenoble
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been forced to tear up his plan to get the U.K. back to “normal” by Christmas and instead impose tough new restrictions after a dramatic spike in the virus among people under 30.
Johnson conducted a live TV briefing with senior officials from 10 Downing St on Wednesday after figures showed U.K. coronavirus infections among young people are now rising rapidly and are double the national average.
From Monday, a new “rule of six” will be introduced in law, with arrests and fines for the first time for those who gather in larger groups, HuffPost UK reported.
Two whole households will no longer able to meet if their numbers are greater than six, and only one support bubble will be allowed, meaning only one set of grandparents will be able to see their grandchildren.
“I’m sorry about that and I wish we did not have to take this step,” Johnson said.
The new curbs are expected to be in place until next spring, government insiders warned, and are in stark contrast to the tone Johnson struck in July, when he suggested there would be a “significant return to normality” by Christmas.
In the past week, the U.K.’s national infection rate among all ages has risen from 12.5 to about 19.7 per 100,000 — just under the rate at which Britain considers adding other countries to its quarantine list (meaning travelers coming into the U.K. from those locations must self-isolate for 14 days). The U.K.’s death toll from COVID-19 is 41,584, the fifth highest in the world.
— Paul Waugh and James Martin
Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Tuesday that it has halted clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate after a trial participant developed a “potentially unexplained illness.”
The Stage 3 trial was paused after the U.K.-based participant developed a serious inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord, The New York Times reported.
In a statement, the company said it will expedite an independent review of the incident to determine whether the illness is a side effect of the vaccine and “to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline.”
The Stage 3 trial is the last phase of testing before a vaccine seeks approval and licensing for release.
— Nina Golgowski
Thousands of people have fled a fire at a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, which had been placed under lockdown after an outbreak of COVID-19.
HuffPost Greece reports (in Greek) that thousands of refugees, including women with babies, children and the elderly ran into the night to be rescued, with many fleeing into mountains, country roads and neighboring areas.
Although no casualties have been reported, a state of emergency has been declared on the island.
“The situation was out of control,” policeman Argyris Syvris told Open TV, adding that police had been forced to release some 200 people who were due to be repatriated to their countries.
“The fire is still raging, the camp has been evacuated. All these people are on the national road towards (the town of) Mytilini,” said Panagiotis Deligiannis, a witness from Moria. “There are police out who are not letting them through. These people are sleeping left and right in the fields.”
HuffPost Greece reported that panic had earlier broken out over the spread of coronavirus in the Moria camp, which holds around 12,000-13,000 people — more than four times its stated capacity. Initial reports suggested fires broke out at different locations in the camp after authorities tried to isolate some people who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Lesbos was on the front line of a mass movement of refugees and migrants to Europe in 2015-2016.
— Katerina Prifti and James Martin
More than 513,000 children have now tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S. since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
More than 70,000 of those cases occurred during the two-week period ending Sept. 3 as many schools and colleges around the country began to reopen and hold in-person classes. That figure represents a 16% increase from the previous figure.
These numbers are a chilling reminder of why we need to take this virus seriously,” AAP’s president, Dr. Sally Goza, said in a statement obtained by CNN. “While much remains unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities.”
Goza said a disproportionate number of cases were reported in Black and Hispanic children and in areas with high poverty.
— Nick Visser
Social gatherings of more than six people will be banned in England starting Monday as the U.K. government moves to stem the “concerning” rise in cases of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out the new rules at a press conference on Wednesday, warning that police can hand out fines of £100 ($130) to anyone who flouts them.
Cutting the legal limit on gatherings from 30 to six signals growing unease among ministers and government scientists about the possibility of a second wave taking hold in the U.K.
The cap will apply both indoors and outdoors, including in private homes, parks, pubs and restaurants, HuffPost UK reported. But gatherings of more than six people will be allowed where the household or support bubble is larger than six or where the gathering is for work or education purposes. Weddings, funerals and some organized team sports will also be exempt.
The crackdown follows the biggest jump in infections in more than three months on Sunday, when new cases hit almost 3,000. The U.K. also reported 30 new coronavirus deaths over a 24-hour period on Tuesday, the highest since July 29.
The U.K.’s coronavirus death toll sits at 41,584 ― the fifth highest in the world.
— Rachel Wearmouth and James Martin
More than 51,000 COVID-19 cases and 60 deaths have been tied to U.S. colleges and universities, according to a New York Times survey of 1,500 institutions.
Schools in the southeast have been hit particularly hard. Alabama recorded 4,093 cases at 17 schools, with 1,367 at the University of Alabama alone; Georgia has 3,692 cases at 28 schools; and Texas reported 6,106 cases across 63 schools.
North Carolina has 4,029 cases at 40 schools, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill accounting for more than 1,100 of those. Classes there are online-only after an outbreak during the first week of classes in August forced administrators to greatly reduce campus activities.
After initially vowing to let 25,000 fans attend its home opener on Sept. 12, Iowa State University said Monday that it would no longer have people attend in person. About 29% of the campus population that was tested for COVID-19 in the second week of classes tested positive.
The state of Iowa has seen a sharp increase in cases in the last week, with college towns like Ames (home to Iowa State University) and Iowa City (University of Iowa) seeing spikes. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate, but on Sunday nevertheless ordered bars and night clubs in six counties with large student populations to close.
— Ryan Grenoble
The prime minister of France will go into quarantine and undergo a coronavirus test after sharing a car with the director of the Tour de France cycling race, who has since tested positive.
Jean Castex traveled with race director Christian Prudhomme during the eighth stage of the Tour on Saturday. Tour de France organizers confirmed on Tuesday that Prudhomme had tested positive for coronavirus.
HuffPost France reported that Castex has been confirmed as a contact case for Prudhomme and will now attend a government seminar on Wednesday by video conference.
Castex’s entourage said that both men “wore a mask and respected distancing barriers. The prime minister will be tested again just in case.”
Despite the race director testing positive, all 22 teams will start the 10th stage of the Tour de France after their riders tested negative for COVID-19, organizers said on Tuesday, adding that four members of staff had returned positive tests.
France has recorded nearly 31,000 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began.
— James Martin
When asked about a coronavirus vaccine, President Donald Trump said Monday that Americans “could have a very big surprise coming up,” implying that a vaccine was imminent despite public health officials warning that the distribution of a vaccine could take many months.
At a meandering Labor Day news conference, Trump said a vaccine could arrive “maybe even before a very special date. You know what date I’m talking about.”
Several vaccine companies are planning a joint pledge to not seek approval for a vaccine until it passes vigorous safety standards amid public concern that Trump will rush a vaccine for political reasons. “With me, it’s the faster the better,” Trump said Monday in response to those concerns.
The U.S. has recorded 6.3 million cases of COVID-19 and is nearing 190,000 deaths from the disease.
— Ja’han Jones and Liza Hearon
Richer young people are one of the biggest drivers of the recent spike in coronavirus, the U.K.’s health secretary said as he urged people “don’t kill your gran.”
Matt Hancock appealed to younger people to stick to social distancing measures, saying that under-25s, particularly those aged 17 to 21, accounted for a large number of positive cases.
He admitted that it was “concerning” that nearly 3,000 new cases of coronavirus were counted in the U.K. in the 24 hours up to 9 a.m. Sunday, the biggest jump in new cases since May 22.
He said younger people could still get seriously ill and pass the disease on to more vulnerable people, HuffPost UK reported.
The revelation could also pose questions about the imminent return of students to universities in Britain.
— Arj Singh
The coronavirus infection rate in New York state — once the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. — has remained below 1% for 30 consecutive days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Sunday.
“New Yorkers can help us keep that streak going by wearing masks, socially distancing and washing their hands,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Our actions today determine the rate of infection tomorrow, so as the Labor Day weekend continues, I urge everyone to be smart so we don’t see a spike in the weeks ahead.”
The state recorded 410 hospitalizations on Sunday, the lowest number since mid-March, Cuomo said.
New York had the highest rate of infection of any state during the early stages of the coronavirus crisis. In late March, more than half of the country’s confirmed cases were in New York; the majority of the state’s cases were in New York City. The state’s drop in cases is largely attributed to strict measures implemented by state and local officials, including mask mandates and restrictions on various businesses. As of Monday, New York trails behind California, Texas and Florida as the states with the most recorded infections.
Reports of COVID-19 cases could climb over the next few weeks as some New York school districts reopen for in-person instruction, Cuomo warned last week. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) delayed the reopening of schools in the city by 10 days as part of a deal with teachers unions, who worry classrooms are not adequately equipped with personal protective equipment and proper ventilation. In-person instruction is now slated to begin Sept. 21 in New York City.
— Hayley Miller
Americans who are tired of wearing masks, staying home and social distancing threaten to spark a dangerous surge in coronavirus cases, Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday.
He also warned that the chances of a vaccine becoming widespread this year are “extremely low.”
“I think we need to think of that [a vaccine] as largely a 2021 event,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And if we do have a vaccine available in 2020, it’s likely to be used in a much more targeted fashion.”
The U.S. has tallied more than 6 million cases of COVID-19, with nearly 189,000 deaths.
— Mary Papenfuss
For more on the pandemic, go here.