October 22, 2020

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Robert Redfield touts masks again; NCAA basketball sets Nov. 25 start date; US surpasses 196K deaths

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As the race to find a coronavirus vaccine continues, federal health officials have already planned...

As the race to find a coronavirus vaccine continues, federal health officials have already planned to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. 

Until then, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield told a Senate panel on Wednesday that face masks are “the most important, powerful public health tool we have.” He also said a vaccine may not be available until next year.

President Donald Trump, however, later contradicted Redfield’s comments and said, “I believe he was confused” by the questions asked about the virus.

Redfield responded on Twitter: “I 100% believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a #COVID19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life. The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds.”

In sports news, the Big Ten announced its plan to return on Oct. 24, reversing its August decision to postpone its fall football season. The NCAA said the men’s and women’s college basketball season can start on Nov. 25.

Some significant developments:

  • Hawaii’s pre-arrival testing program for out of state visitors will begin Oct. 15, Gov. David Ige announced.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to make an announcement on theme park reopenings “very, very shortly.”

  • A CDC report found the majority of children, teens and young adults who’ve died from COVID-19 are Hispanic, Black or Native American. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 6.6 million cases and 196,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been more than 29.8 million cases and 941,000 fatalities.

📰 What we’re reading: The CDC has received widespread scrutiny for yielding to political pressure from the White House. These interviews and records provide the most extensive look yet at how the CDC, paralyzed by bureaucracy, failed to consistently perform its most basic job: giving public health authorities the guidance needed to save American lives during a pandemic.  

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

Trump blames ‘blue states’ for overall coronavirus death toll in US

President Donald Trump blamed “blue states” for increasing the nation’s death rate from coronavirus, suggesting that if “you take the blue states out” of the equation the United States would be far more competitive with other countries. 

Trump has long blamed Democratic leaders for a variety of ills, including “Democrat-run” cities where protests against police have occasionally turned violent. But his remarks Wednesday were his most explicit politicization yet of the handling of COVID-19. It comes as Trump has been forced to defend metrics that indicate the U.S. has been in a worse position than many other nations dealing with the pandemic. 

The president, speaking to reporters at the White House, started off arguing that the United States was handling the virus well compared to other nations “despite the fact that the blue states had tremendous death rates.

“If you take the blue states out,” he continued, “we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level but some of the states — they were blue states, and blue-state management.”

– John Fritze and David Jackson

Hawaii to start pre-travel testing program for out-of-state visitors on Oct. 15

Hawaii officials announced the start of a pre-travel testing program that has been delayed twice due to a spike in coronavirus infections.

Starting Oct. 15, out-of-state travelers won’t need to quarantine for 14 days if they tested negative for the virus, Gov. David Ige announced Wednesday. Ige said travelers must get tested within 72 hours before arriving to Hawaii.

Kaiser Permanente and CVS will be conducting the tests.

India sees another record jump in cases

India has confirmed another record jump in coronavirus cases, logging 97,894 cases in the past 24 hours.

The Health Ministry said Thursday that the new cases raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.1 million. It said 1,132 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 83,198.

At the current rate of infection, India is expected within weeks to surpass the 6.6 million reported cases in the United States, currently the country with the most reported infections.

Feds will distribute COVID-19 vaccine 24 hours after the first one is approved

The United States plans to begin distributing coronavirus vaccine within 24 hours of one being approved, federal officials said Wednesday.

It’s an audacious goal in an already franticly paced COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution program being overseen by the White House’s aptly-named Operation Warp Speed.

The goal is that 24 hours after a license or an Emergency Use Authorization is issued “we have vaccine moving to administration sites,”  Lt. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski, Operation Warp Speed deputy chief of supply, production and distribution, said on a media call Wednesday morning.

The initial rollout could begin as early as late this year or January. The announcement came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a 56-page “playbook” outlining details of how the vaccine will be distributed to medical providers nationally.

– Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub

Big Ten football will begin Oct. 24, reversing August decision

Bowing to pressure from players, coaches and politicians, the Big Ten’s presidents decided Wednesday morning to move forward with an eight-game football season beginning on the weekend of Oct. 24, reversing their August decision to postpone the fall schedule and ending weeks of drama that spread from campuses all the way to the White House.

Citing new information presented by the league’s medical advisory board last weekend, including the imminent availability of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 that can be administered on a daily basis, Big Ten presidents concluded they can safely conduct a football season, even as some of them struggle with infection rates on their own campuses. 

“From the onset of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and the safety of our students.  The new medical protocols and standards put into place by the Big Ten Return To Competition Task Force were pivotal in the decision to move forward with sports in the conference,” said Northwestern president Morton Schapiro, who chairs the Big Ten’s council of presidents and chancellors. 

– Dan Wolken

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy criticizes YouTube stars for mostly maskless events

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy slammed the YouTube stars Nelk Boys on Wednesday after a crowd of roughly 2,500 mostly maskless fans descended on Seaside Heights, New Jersey, for pop-up events touched off by the group’s appearance in the borough.

Murphy said the events in Seaside Heights Monday night, which were broken up by police, may be the most “extreme” and “egregious display of knucklehead behavior” the state has seen during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Crowds of revelers gathered outside the “Jersey Shore” house, made famous as the one-time home of cast members from the hit MTV reality series, where the Nelk Boys were staying to promote the debut of new merchandise. A short distance away, another group of about 1,000 fans gathered for a related car club show, police said.

“It’s exactly the type of situation we cannot have,” Murphy said at a coronavirus briefing in Trenton. “It was irresponsible from top to bottom in every respect. And these so-called influencers need to be taken to task.”

– Andrew J. Goudsward, Asbury Park Press

Database tracks coronavirus cases in Wisconsin schools

Within days of Wisconsin students’ return to K-12 classrooms, there were dozens of reports of COVID-19 cases among students and school employees.

Disease experts and education advocates have said it’s important to fully inform communities about transmission at schools, including sharing which schools have cases, how many cases there are and what’s being done about them.

Because state health and education officials aren’t naming schools or districts with known cases, journalists at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin are keeping track of them using this database.

To see if there are cases at schools near you, search here.

– USA TODAY Network-Wisconsin and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID News: Trump, CDC’s Redfield clash on masks; vaccine update

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