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Over 60,000 new COVID-19 cases reported across U.S.

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COVID-19 cases are surging and experts say it could get worse 05:32

More than 60,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported across the United States on Tuesday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. 

The Northeast was hit hard by the virus earlier this year followed by a summer spike in cases in the South. Coronavirus hospitalizations are now rising in 37 states, and rural hospitals are feeling the brunt of the fall surge.  

In at least four Midwestern states — South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho and Wisconsin — an alarming 20% of recent tests are positive.

Cases are also rising globally, and Europe is battling a fresh spike in infections. Ireland has become the first E.U. country to return to a coronavirus lockdown. 

Over the past two days, more than 825,000 new cases were reported worldwide.

Latest updates

Virus Outbreak New York Airports
TSA personnel and travelers observe COVID-19 transmission prevention protocols as acrylic dividers are employed to further protect staff at John F. Kennedy International Airport, October 20, 2020, in New York. John Minchillo/AP

CBS News goes inside a coronavirus ward at Wisconsin's largest hospital

CBS News exclusive: Inside a coronavirus ward at Wisconsin's largest hospital 03:05

CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz has this exclusive report from the "CBS Evening News."

By Peter Martinez

14-year-old girl works on potential cure for coronavirus

14-year-old girl works on potential cure for coronavirus 01:32

A 14-year-old from Texas hopes to one day save lives with her research on a potential treatment for the coronavirus. Mireya Villarreal shares her story on the "CBS Evening News."


CDC updates close contacts guidance and emphasizes masks

The CDC has updated its COVID-19 guidance for close contacts, which include contact with coronavirus patients for numerous, brief exposures as a possible way to contract the virus. 

"As we get more data and understand the science of Covid, we are going to incorporate that in our recommendations," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a news conference Wednesday. 

The agency made the changes after a Vermont corrections officer tested positive for coronavirus after interacting with positive inmates multiple times, but all under 15-minute increments. Past CDC guidance has defined "close contact" as closer than 6 feet to an active COVID-19 case for at least 15 minutes. 

The CDC, in a statement, said the case "significantly adds to the scientific knowledge of the risk to contacts of those with Covid-19 and highlights again the importance of wearing face masks to prevent transmission."

The new data and updated contact definitions will be used to re-evaluate some current CDC recommendations. 

By Zoe Christen Jones

Pennsylvania reports 16 consecutive days with 1,000 new virus cases

The state of Pennsylvania has reported 1,000 new coronavirus cases for 16 consecutive days, according to Pennsylvania's Department of Health.

"The fall resurgence is here," Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement. "And while we must always take this deadly virus seriously, now is the time for all of us to double down on our efforts to keep ourselves and those around us safe. We've seen what happens when masks aren't worn and social distancing isn't practiced - people get sick, so we need to stay vigilant and work together to stop the spread of COVID-19."

On Wednesday, the state announced 1,425 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. With the addition of 29 new deaths, the statewide total now rests at 8,533 victims. Pennsylvania's statewide positivity rate also increased from 3.9% to 4.3% in the past seven days. 

By Zoe Christen Jones

Boston Public Schools suspend in-person classes as cases rise

Boston Public Schools have suspended all in-person learning as the city sees a rise in cases. 

The city of Boston currently has a 5.7% positivity rate, which shows an increase since last week's rate of 4.5%. The only students allowed in the classroom are those considered "high needs." Boston currently counts 3,500 high needs students spread out in all public Boston schools. 

"BPS remains committed to providing in-person learning opportunities to our students as soon as it is appropriate to do so, and will continue to prioritize our students with the highest needs for in-person learning," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius in a statement. 

Boston's rise in cases has had a significant effect on its schooling. Last week, Phase 3 of in-person learning was delayed until October 29. The new rules delay a return to in-person learning until infection rates fall consistently for 2 weeks. 

"We have said all along that we will only provide in-person learning for students if the data and public health guidance supports it, and this new data shows that we are trending in the wrong direction," Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement

By Zoe Christen Jones

Spain becomes first western European country to reach over 1 million cases

Spain has become the first western European country to reach more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases. Spain's health ministry says the total since the start of the pandemic has reached 1,005,295 after reporting 16,973 additional cases in the past 24 hours.

The ministry says the country has 34,366 confirmed deaths. Health experts say the real numbers of infections and deaths are probably much higher because insufficient testing, asymptomatic cases and reporting issues impede the true scale of the outbreak.

Health authorities in charge of health policy in Spain's regions are tightening restrictions in hopes of stemming the surge.

By The Associated Press

Hawaii cites hundreds in week 1 of tourism plan

Honolulu police have issued warnings or citations to thousands of people in violation of coronavirus protocols since Hawaii launched a pre-arrival testing program to reopen to tourists.

The Honolulu Police Department says officers issued 4,500 warnings and 470 citations for not wearing masks or failing to social distance since the launch of the traveler testing program Thursday.

Police say they do not separate visitors and residents on their list of citations and warnings. Officers also arrested several people for violations of the city's emergency orders. Supporters of reopening say tourists pose fewer risks than large gatherings of residents.

By The Associated Press

Senate Democrats block slimmed-down GOP coronavirus bill as talks continue

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a $500 billion coronavirus relief bill proposed by Republicans, while talks continue over a larger package with dimming prospects of passing before the election.

The Republican measure failed to garner the 60 votes needed to advance on the Senate floor. Democrats argue that the Republican proposal did not go far enough, and question why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not brought a $2.4 trillion proposal passed in the House to the floor. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the vote was a political stunt, as McConnell knew the bill did not have the votes to pass.

"The Republican majority will bring up a bill designed to fail, their partisan, emaciated COVID relief bill. The bill we're voting on today has already failed in the Senate, didn't get a Democratic vote and we already know it lacks the votes," Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. A nearly identical bill proposed by Republicans was also blocked by Democrats in September.

But Republicans blame Democrats for refusing to make any concessions. McConnell on Tuesday accused Senate Democrats of doing "Speaker Pelosi's political dirty work rather than stand up for struggling people."

The Republican proposal included funding for boosted unemployment benefits, $100 billion for reopening schools and money for testing and vaccines. It did not include several Democratic priorities, such as more money for the unemployment benefits, funding for state and local jurisdictions and a second round of direct payments.

Read more here.

By Grace Segers

New Jersey governor and wife test negative for virus

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and the first lady tested negative for coronavirus on Wednesday, just hours after he abruptly left an event.

The Democrat was speaking at a workforce development event his office organized with Democratic Representative Donald Norcross at Camden County College when he learned a recent contact had tested positive.

The 63-year-old governor says he has no symptoms and last tested negative on Monday. Murphy spokesperson Mahen Gunaratna says Tammy Murphy also tested negative on Wednesday afternoon. The governor and first lady will quarantine until the end of the weekend and take a test before resuming any in-person events.

The state's daily coronavirus figures have doubled in the past month, state officials said this week. New Jersey has reported more than 222,000 positive cases and 14,438 confirmed deaths.

By The Associated Press

NFL's Washington team not yet allowing fans

The Washington Football Team will allow only friends and family in attendance at FedEx Field on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, even after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan allowed teams to fill outdoor stadiums to 10% capacity.

A spokeswoman said there would be no change from Washington's previous arrangement to not sell tickets to fans for this game at the stadium in Landover, Maryland. At 10% capacity, roughly 8,000 fans would be allowed, something that remains possible later this season.

By The Associated Press

Virus spikes have officials looking to shore up hospitals

Hospitals across the United States are starting to buckle from a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, with several states setting records for the number of people hospitalized and leaders scrambling to find extra beds and staff. 

In Kentucky, the governor called the number of daily confirmed cases "grim," forcing another round of preparations to expand hospital capacity.

"We are now going back to our plans about capacity in hospitals, looking – if we have to – at hotel options and the use of state parks," Governor Andy Beshear said during a recent briefing. "Ensuring that we have the operational plans to stand up the field hospital, if necessary."

Hotels or state parks could potentially be used to house people who need to quarantine or isolate. The governor reported 776 people hospitalized, including 202 in intensive care and 96 on ventilators. There were 1,312 new COVID-19 cases statewide Tuesday – the fourth-highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

At the other end of the country, Idaho reported its largest coronavirus spike, with new cases increasing by some 47% over the past two weeks. Idaho is currently sixth in the nation for new cases per capita, with a positivity rate of just over 15% – one of the country's highest.

By The Associated Press

New Jersey governor self-quarantines

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says he recently came into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. 

CBS New York reports the governor appeared at an event Wednesday morning and announced he came in "close proximity" Saturday with someone who tested positive.

Murphy himself was tested on Monday, and the results came back negative.

He said he plans to take another test Wednesday and left the event to self-quarantine until those results arrive.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appears on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, April 12, 2020. CBS News

U.S. sees over 221,000 COVID-19 deaths

More than 221,200 coronavirus deaths were reported nationwide as of mid-Wednesday, a number far higher than any other country's reported death toll. Over 8,282,000 confirmed cases have now been reported across the county, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Globally, more than 40.9 million cases have been reported and over 1.1 million deaths have been attributed to the virus.


All in-person learning suspended at Boston schools

Boston Public Schools announced on Wednesday it is suspending all in-person learning for students due to rising coronavirus numbers. The decision is effective as of Thursday, CBS Boston reports. All students will learn remotely until there are two full weeks of falling infection rates.

Only high-needs students were learning in the classroom as of Wednesday. The rest of Boston Public Schools students were already learning remotely.

"BPS remains committed to providing in-person learning opportunities to our students as soon as it is appropriate to do so, and will continue to prioritize our students with the highest needs for in-person learning," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. 

Boston announced last week that the start of Phase 3 in-person learning for students in Pre-K - Grade 3 was delayed by one week until October 29 at the earliest. That changed again on Wednesday.

Boston is currently classified by the state as high risk due to its coronavirus infection rate.

In its Wednesday announcement, the city said Boston's seven-day average COVID-19 positive test rate was 5.7%, an increase from last week's rate of 4.5%. "There's no one single factor — but when more people see more people, COVID-19 spreads," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told CBS Boston.

Walsh said the city is also seeing its testing levels go down. Boston was averaging 1,800 tests per day, but that number is down to 1,500 per day.

"We need to get more people tested," said Walsh.


North Dakota National Guard helps with test results

North Dakota's coronavirus cases are rising so fast, the Republican governor is deploying the National Guard to notify people of positive test results. 

Governor Doug Burgum and the North Dakota Department of Health announced they're shifting 50 National Guard members who had worked in contract tracing to notify people who test positive. It's been taking health officials up to three days to notify people after they've tested positive, the department said.

Public health officials will no longer notify close contacts of people who tested positive; instead those individuals will be instructed to self-notify close contacts and direct them to the department's website.

North Dakota's 1,224 new cases of the coronavirus per 100,000 people in the past two weeks is the highest per capita in the nation, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

The state's numbers have prompted questions over how Burgum, a former Microsoft executive up for re-election, has handled the coronavirus. He's asked citizens to voluntarily wear masks.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, a surgeon, has called for a mask mandate statewide. The mayor says there's "better compliance if it's the whole state."

By The Associated Press

Kansas mom speaks out after daughter diagnosed with MIS-C

A mom from Wellington, Kansas, is asking for prayers after daughter was diagnosed with a rare condition linked to COVID-19, CBS affiliate KWCH reports. 

"Never in my wildest dreams would I think my perfect 12-year-old daughter would be fighting for her life," said Rains.

Rains said her daughter, Adalyn, complained earlier this month that her stomach hurt. She had developed a fever two days later and started vomiting and had diarrhea.  Rains took Adalyn to the emergency room after her fever hit 105 degrees, and she was later admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit.

"My daughter had no symptoms she was a perfectly healthy 12 year old girl," Jessica posted on Facebook over the weekend, alongside pictures of her daughter in the hospital. "But in an instant that change. Please educate yourself about MIS-C this can be deadly and it almost was for my daughter. This is what a non- symptom covid child can look like in 3-4 weeks."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 1,000 cases of MIS-C have been confirmed in children nationwide. The condition, Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, has also been associated with 20 deaths among children reported in 44 states, New York City and Washington, D.C., as of October 1.

Children with the condition can experience inflammation in the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. They may also have a fever, and symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and feeling extra tired, the CDC says.


Iowa COVID-19 hospitalizations hit all-time high

A total of 534 people were hospitalized in Iowa due to COVID-19, as of Wednesday morning, an all-time high for the state. CBS affiliate KMEG reports 1,221 new coronavirus cases have been reported there over the last 24-hours.

More than 109,000 people have been infected with the virus across the state and over 1,570 people have died because of it, according to the station.


Brazil's Bolsonaro rejects Chinese vaccine against COVID-19

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro overruled his own health minister on Wednesday, rejecting the announced purchase of 46 million doses of CoronaVac, a potential vaccine against COVID-19 being tested in Sao Paulo state.

Health minister Eduardo Pazuello announced the purchase on Tuesday alongside Sao Paulo's Gov. João Doria, a foe of Bolsonaro's whose state government is participating in the vaccine's development. The cost of the acquisition was estimated at 2 billion Brazilian reals ($360 million).

"The Brazilian people will not be anyone's guinea pig," Bolsonaro said on his social media channels, adding that the shot made by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac is yet to finish its testing phase – which is true of all potential vaccines. "My decision is to not purchase such a vaccine."

It is common practice for governments to purchase doses of promising vaccines, to build a stockpile in case they are proven effective. That investment is usually not refundable if the shot fails.

Brazil counts more than 153,000 deaths by COVID-19, second only to the United States. The South American nation also confirmed 5.2 million cases of the disease, the third biggest in the world, behind the U.S. and India.

By The Associated Press

"The situation is worsening, and worsening fast"

The Swiss health minister said coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations were doubling every week, warning of the prospect of overburdened hospitals as Switzerland has gone from one of the least-affected countries in Europe to one of the worst-hit in just three weeks.

Alain Berset made the comments Wednesday after the country of 8.5 million tallied a record 5,583 new cases over the latest 24 hours, obliterating the previous one-day record — set two days earlier — by about 14%.

He said the government will act again if new restrictive measures announced over the weekend don't help lower the count.

"The situation is worsening, and worsening fast," Berset said in Bern, the capital.

"Three weeks ago, we had a situation that was among the best on the European continent," he said. "Three weeks later, we have one of the worst situations as far as Europe goes." 

General Views - 16th Zurich Film Festival
A sign informs people about the mandatory face mask at the festival centre as part of measures to protect festival goers and employees from coronavirus during the 16th Zurich Film Festival on September 27, 2020, in Zurich, Switzerland.  Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for ZFF

Europe has faced a punishing second wave in recent weeks and has again become one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. It tallied a record 927,000 confirmed cases over the last week. 

By The Associated Press

North Dakota is leading in cases per capita

North Dakota is now leading the U.S. in cases per capita. The surge has led to its first mask mandate in two cities – Fargo and Minot – although the mandates carry no penalty for non-compliance. 

South Dakota's cases are also among the fastest-growing in the nation, with almost 35,000 confirmed positives, David Begnaud, the lead national correspondent for "CBS This Morning," reported Wednesday.

This is what Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Tenhaken says he's hearing almost daily: "Is this virus even a real deal? Is this the biggest hoax ever?"

"So that's what we're dealing with," he said.

The Republican does not believe in mask mandates, but he does believe everyone should wear one.

"I need this entire region to be diligent," he said. "I need you in northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota, northeast Nebraska to be doing this, as well. Because when your people get sick, they're ending up in my city."

Coronavirus cases surge in the Dakotas 03:49

Samantha Williamson says she was "one of those people that was telling ... everybody that it wasn't real." 

"But it is real," she said.

The mother of three wound up in an Oklahoma hospital infected with the virus, and now has this warning.

"Sitting in here makes you realize that we take everything for granted," she said. "It's not fake and it is a struggle."

"Wear your mask," she said. 


2 Wisconsin music festivals shut down for good

Two of Wisconsin's biggest annual music festivals are shutting down for good following COVID-related cancellations this summer.

The company that puts on the 25-year-old Country USA and the 9-year-old Rock USA in Oshkosh said this week it plans to file for bankruptcy. The events have featured headliners such as Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and Ozzy Osbourne in recent years.

Neenah-based Hypervibe canceled this year's festivals in June. Ticketholders tell WLUK-TV they've been trying to get their money back. Drew Rodgers, of Berlin, filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all ticketholders, but says he isn't optimistic.

In a note posted to both events' Facebook pages Monday, Hypervibe said the cancellations were too much for the company to absorb.

"We are heartbroken by the events which have caused this horrible situation," the post said. "We also care about our loyal patrons, for without them, there wouldn't have been so many years of these great events. We are trying to do right by our loyal supporters and get you a refund, to the extent possible, quickly and equitably."

In recent years, Country USA and Rock USA each averaged crowds of more than 25,000 people each day.

Hypervibe says it plans to send letters or emails to ticketholders with instructions on how to fill out bankruptcy claims.

By The Associated Press

Wife of TSA screener who died urges people to "take this seriously"

The wife of a Transportation Security Administration worker who died from COVID-19 complications is speaking out for the first time.

Gerald "Teddy" Girard, 67, died last week. Terra Girard, his wife of 41 years, said it was the beginning of the month when she says she didn't feel well. Two days later, Teddy was in worse shape, CBS Minnesota reports

"It was a total of nine days from the bad symptoms started happening. It was nine days 'til he died," said Terra.

Born with one kidney, her husband had diabetes and high blood pressure. Terra says both were in check as he had lost weight. But he had insisted on still working the job he had for 13 years as a security and baggage screener at MSP Airport.

"The problem with TSA is you can't socially distance," she said.

Terra can't say for sure how their household was infected. He tested positive for COVID-19 as soon he arrived at the hospital and for days, Terra was kept away, only allowed in for a few hours for a final goodbye.

"I just wanted to go in and hold his hand. I couldn't even do that," Terra said.

She is tired of how political the pandemic has become, and the lack of masks she sees being worn. Terra hopes the story of a husband, father, and grandfather serves as a reminder of just what real could mean.

"We were supposed to get old together. We were supposed to have a 50th wedding anniversary, and we're supposed to be one of those cute, little old couples that still hold hands and walk around the street," Terra said. "People have to take this seriously."

Teddy Girard is the second TSA official to die from COVID-19 complications. Last month, the agency announced a 55-year-old air marshal also died. In all, 19 TSA workers at MSP have contracted the virus. Eighteen worked as screeners.


U.S. sees 13% rise in cases among children

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association say 84,319 new COVID-19 cases were reported in children from October 1 to October 15 – a 13% increase in child cases.

Since the start of the pandemic, over 741,000 children have tested positive for the virus, according to a report updated this week. The overall rate of infection is 986 cases per 100,000 children in the U.S. population.

Severe illness from COVID-19 appears to remain rare among kids. "However, states should continue to provide detailed reports on COVID-19 cases, testing, hospitalizations, and mortality by age and race/ethnicity so that the effects of COVID-19 on children's health can be documented and monitored," the report said.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Pope reverts to not wearing a mask amid growing criticism

A day after donning a face mask for the first time during a liturgical service, Pope Francis was back to not wearing a mask Wednesday despite surging coronavirus infections across Europe and growing criticism of his behavior and the example he is setting.

Francis shunned a face mask again during his Wednesday general audience in the Vatican auditorium, and didn't wear one when he greeted a half-dozen mask-less bishops at the end. He shook hands and leaned in to chat privately with each one. 

Vatican Pope
Pope Francis waves to faithful at the end of the weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, October 21, 2020. Gregorio Borgia/AP

While the clerics wore masks while seated during the audience, all but one took his mask off to speak to the pope. Only one kept it on, and by the end of his tete-a-tete with Francis, had lowered it under his chin. 

Vatican regulations now require facemasks to be worn indoors and out where distancing can't be "always guaranteed." The Vatican hasn't responded to questions about why the pope wasn't following either Vatican regulations or basic public health measures to prevent COVID-19.

By The Associated Press

No immediate changes planned in Nevada as cases spike

Nevada's rate of coronavirus infections is steadily rising again. But state officials are reluctant to blame relaxed guidelines and say there is no reason yet to consider stricter measures.

"We're not at that point now," Governor Steve Sisolak said.

"I don't want to get to that point ... I don't want to see that happen, so we are working to loosen things up more and get people back to what their new normal is," he said Tuesday at a news conference in Las Vegas.

Sisolak and state health officials pointed to national and worldwide trends rather than the easing of state guidelines as the cause of the spikes. He said adherence to prevention measures could curb the spread of the virus and prevent reimplementing restrictions.

Nevada's rate of infections has been increasing since Sisolak, a Democrat, relaxed restrictions on the size of public gatherings on October 1. The White House Coronavirus Task Force has since redesignated the state as a "red zone," after the number of new cases per week per 100,000 residents surpassed 100.

The governor acknowledged the rates of new cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations were trending at an "alarming" rate in Nevada. But he echoed comments from health officials that pointed to broader trends rather than decisions to ease restrictions.

Nevada's 14-day rolling average for the positivity rate, which measures community transmission of the virus, began this week at 9.1% for the third consecutive day.

By The Associated Press

Another chunk of England faces tight virus restrictions

The South Yorkshire region of northern England is being placed under the country's tightest restrictions to curb the coronavirus – joining a densely populated swathe of the country where the measures have been imposed despite protests from local politicians.

Dan Jarvis, mayor of the region's biggest city of Sheffield, said Wednesday the Tier 3 restrictions for about 1.4 million people will come into force on Saturday. He said local authorities had struck a deal with the British government on financial support for the area to accompany the measures.

"We all recognize the gravity of the situation and have taken the responsible route to ensure we save lives and livelihoods," Jarvis said.

"The character and grit of people in South Yorkshire will be needed in abundance to help us get through what will be an incredibly challenging period."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is resisting a recommendation from its scientific advisers to have a short nationwide "circuit-breaker" lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. Instead, it has adopted a three-tier system for England, with areas classed as medium, high or very high virus risk. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own measures.

In the highest-risk areas of England, pubs have to close, people are barred from mixing with members of other households and travel in and out of the area is discouraged.

By The Associated Press
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