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New COVID-19 cases reported worldwide reach new high

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Doctor discusses rise in COVID-19 cases, racial disparities, new CDC guidelines 08:03

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The number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose Wednesday for a third straight day, with more than 62,000 new cases reported, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University

Worldwide, more new cases were reported than ever before: over 443,000. That marks the fifth time in just over a week the global record for new cases was broken.

Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates are among the nations recording record-breaking numbers of new infections. This week, Spain became western Europe's first country to record over 1 million confirmed cases.

In the U.S., rural hospitals are feeling the brunt of the fall surge. Wisconsin's governor announced the state has reported its highest single-day COVID-19 death toll, with 48 lives lost to the virus. A hospital overflow facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park has also accepted its first patient.

"We are thankful to have this facility available to Wisconsinites and our hospitals, but also saddened that this is where Wisconsin is at today," Governor Tony Evers said in a news release.

Latest updates

Prague Amid Coronavirus Uptick
A member of the Czech Army helps set up equipment and beds inside of field hospital built in an exhibition center for patients who suffer from COVID-19 on October 22, 2020 in Prague, Czech Republic. Getty Images

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Chicago implements new virus rules as cases rise

Some Chicago businesses will have to close by 10 p.m. and residents are asked to limit gatherings to six people as the number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases among residents continues to rise, the city's mayor announced Thursday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also announced that bars without food licenses must stop serving customers indoors and liquor sales citywide must end at 9 p.m. The curfew doesn't apply to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other essential businesses.

All of the changes take effect Friday.

Lightfoot warned earlier this week that rising numbers of new confirmed cases could lead to reinstated restrictions on the city's economy. As of Thursday, Lightfoot said the city was reporting an average of 645 new cases during the past seven days.

By The Associated Press

Kansas coronavirus positivity rate tops 20%

The coronavirus positivity rate in Kansas has topped 20%, among the highest in the country. The 14-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Kansas rose from 15.04% on October 7 to 20.64% on Wednesday, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day average for new cases was a record 757 on Wednesday, with many cases in rural parts of the state.

More than 90 of the state's 105 counties have opted out of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's mask order. She plans to speak with House and Senate leadership to work toward a bipartisan mask requirement with more teeth.

The state's top public health official, Dr. Lee Norman, this month blamed the state's worsening numbers on residents' refusal to consistently follow public health guidelines for mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding large public gatherings.

Some lawmakers have resisted imposing statewide restrictions, wanting the decisions left to local officials. Kelly says there will be legislative challenges, but the research is clear: Masks work.

By The Associated Press

New Jersey reports over 1,000 new cases for fifth straight day

New Jersey on Thursday reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the fifth day in a row as the state battles a new rise of infections. Governor Phil Murphy said the statewide rate of transmission is now 1.17, which means each new case is leading to more than one other infection.

"We're advising all New Jerseyans to avoid any unnecessary interstate travel given the recent increases in numbers both here and in neighboring states," Murphy tweeted."

Crossing state lines for work, groceries, or worship is one thing – but otherwise, stay in New Jersey."Hospitalizations are increasing in the state and more schools are delaying reopenings. 

"This is not something we didn't expect. We expected a second wave to happen in the fall. But the question is how bad it gets. That means peak, and how quickly we get to that peak," said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO of University Hospital, Newark, CBS New York reported.

Murphy said Thursday officials are seeing trouble with gatherings in private homes and urged people to follow CDC guidelines "and not gather in a private home with anyone outside your immediate family."


France extends curfew to 38 virus regions

French Prime Minister Jean Castex extended curfews to 38 regions to help lower the spread of the coronavirus because "the second wave is here." He says a curfew ordered last week in eight regions, including Paris and its suburbs, will be extended on Friday at midnight to those new regions and Polynesia.

New daily cases have hovered around 30,000. The number of cases has doubled in France in the past 15 days. The extension means 46 million people among France's population of 67 million will be under curfew.

The prime minister says the occupation of hospital beds has reached more than 44 percent, with more than half of UCI beds in four regions occupied by COVID-19 patients, including the Paris region.

More than 34,000 people have died in France since the start of the pandemic, the third-highest death toll in Europe behind Britain (44,000) and Italy (36,000).

By The Associated Press

Europeans face more curfews, restrictions as virus surges

Italy's three largest cities face new curfews as regional authorities try to slow the spread of COVID-19 where it first struck hard in Europe, most of whose countries are now imposing, or mulling, new restrictions to cope with rapidly rising caseloads.

A midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew in Lazio, which includes Rome, begins on Friday and lasts for 30 days, under an order signed by regional governor Nicola Zingaretti. 

The governor of Campania, the southern region which includes densely populated Naples, on Thursday ordered residents to stay at home from 11 p.m. to shortly before dawn starting the next day. A similar curfew in Lombardy, where infections are particularly surging in its main city, Milan, will go into effect Thursday night.

The Czech Republic's government on Thursday re-imposed exactly the same heavy restrictions it slapped on citizens in the spring - and which Prime Minister Andrej Babis had repeatedly said would not be repeated. Babis apologized for the huge impact the restrictions will have on everyday life but said if they were not taken "our health system would collapse between Nov 7-11."

The measures include limits on free movement and the closure of many stores, shopping malls and hotels, until at least Nov 3.

Meanwhile, Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested that, starting Saturday, he would like all of Poland to be placed under the highest level of restrictions short of a full lockdown. That would include mandatory use of masks in all open public spaces, limits on the number of people allowed in shops and public transport, and closing gyms and swimming pools.

Spain is mulling new restrictions including possible curfews.  

By The Associated Press

N.J. governor remains in self-quarantine

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy remains in self-quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19. Murphy was in contact over the weekend with someone who has since tested positive. His tests have all been negative, CBS New York reports.

Hospitalizations from the coronavirus are now the highest they've been in three months in New Jersey.

On Thursday morning, the governor spoke about whether the increasing transmission rate could shut down businesses again.

"We're going to do everything we can to not do that. Listen, I believe we've responsibly, step by step, opened our state back up again," he said. "We still have limited capacities, admittedly, on things like indoor dining, on gyms, on indoor entertainment, for sure. But we have come a long way since we started to reopen in May, and I hope we not only stay that way, but the numbers get better sooner than later."


Alex Azar says vaccine could be available to "all Americans" by April

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has declined to speculate on when the U.S. will return to a semblance of pre-pandemic life, but expressed optimism that a vaccine may be available to some by the end of the year. 

"We can't predict exactly when we'll get data," he said Thursday on "CBS This Morning." "We believe by the end of this year we would have enough FDA-authorized vaccine to vaccinate our most vulnerable people, by the end of January enough vaccine for all of our seniors as well as our health care workers and first responders, and by the end of March to early April - enough for all Americans." 

HHS Secretary Alex Azar on COVID-19 vaccine timeline and "concerning" pandemic trend 05:23

Azar on Thursday also denied a new report claiming he is "openly plotting the ouster" of FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn over his alleged insistence on strict COVID-19 vaccine safety guidelines. "Commissioner Hahn and I speak almost every day. We have a very close, productive relationship," Azar said. 

According to a report published Thursday in Politico, Azar had expressed his frustration with Hahn to several allies within his department, and even went so far as to discuss the "prospect of seeking White House permission to remove him." 

Hahn's reported insistence on stricter-than-normal safety standards for a coronavirus vaccine would likely make President Trump's repeated promise to deliver a vaccine before the November 3 election impossible. 

Azar called the allegations "absolutely untrue," and has previously denied efforts to meet an Election Day deadline. 

He said he was "working together" with Commissioner Hahn, and "100% supported" the FDA maintaining control.

Read more here.

By Elizabeth Elkind

Washington state releases vaccine distribution plan

Health officials in Washington state have announced how they plan to distribute the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.

The state Department of Health on Wednesday released its draft plan to distribute vaccine doses in several phases, outlining for the first time who will have first access, how vaccines will be administered and how the state plans to promote the vaccine to its residents, The Seattle Times reported. Officials said the plan recognizes the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on some communities and promises to take equity into consideration when allocating the doses.

The state's plan would first prioritize the vaccine to limited, high-risk workers in health care settings, first responders, other essential workers and adults in long-term care facilities. The state then plans to make the vaccine accessible in a "broad network of provider settings" such as pharmacies, community health centers and occupational health clinics. The third phase would address gaps in populations with inequitable access.

"It's in line with everything we have been tracking, in terms of who the prioritization groups should be," said Kayla Scrivner, a program manager at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Seattle' Children's Hospital Education Director Dr. Douglas Diekema argued if health care workers should be prioritized over those at the greatest risk to die of COVID-19.

"If you can protect yourself with adequate PPE (personal protective equipment), should those people be first in line?" Diekema said.

Abigail Echo-Hawk, the chief research officer for the Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle who helped develop the National Academies' nationwide framework, said it is important the plan focuses on equity.

How a vaccine is distributed could mitigate some risks for hard-hit communities of color, she said.

By The Associated Press

Gatherings around youth sports blamed for COVID-19 spike in Massachusetts town

The board of health in Dedham, Massachusetts, believes gatherings before and after youth sports events are contributing to a spike in coronavirus cases, CBS Boston reports. 

As of Wednesday, Dedham health officials said there were 17 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past week. Additional cases were expected to be confirmed in the coming days.

According to the Board of Health, most of the cases have been in young children and teens. It is believed the cases stem from social gatherings and activities surrounding youth sports, such as team dinners and get-togethers.

The town said it is not currently calling for any changes to youth sports, but is closely monitoring the situation.

Coaches are being asked to speak to their players and parents about practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding gatherings.

"The Board of Health's top priority is protecting the public's overall health," chairwoman Leanne Jasset said. "We take this mission very seriously, not just during the pandemic, but each and every day. It is imperative that we all continue to work together in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Dedham. We will continue to share the necessary resources to allow our residents to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors."


California theme parks pushing back against reopening rules

California theme parks are considering legal action to reopen and get their employees back to work in response to a new wave of closures, CBS Los Angeles reports. Guidelines issued by the state would prevent reopening until likely next summer.

"The guidelines from the governor is grossly inconsistent with the guidelines given to other industries and lacks any scientific basis," said Kurt Stocks, Legoland president. "We just want the administration to treat us the same as industries of a very similar nature."

In a Zoom meeting, the heads of Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios and Legoland aired their frustrations with business restrictions that emerged because of the pandemic. They accuse the state of being disingenuous when saying that state leaders collaborated with the parks on new guidelines.

"This pandemic is a much broader health crisis," said Ken Potrock, Disneyland Resort president. "Anxiety and joblessness is a gigantic toll, human toll, on individuals. It begins to affect things as dire as suicide rates." 

Potrock argues that related businesses have seen detrimental impacts of these closures and the uncertainty about when operations will return to normal are causing a strain.

"Not just our cast members and employees, but the related businesses that were affected by. The small businesses that were generational businesses that have not been able to reopen and are terrified that their businesses that were created by their grandparents are no longer going to be viable going forward," Potrock said.

Potrock's statements reflect sentiments expressed by local business leaders who are experiencing unexpected financial burdens.


Number of Americans applying for jobless aid drops to 797,000

The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell sharply last week, indicating that job losses have eased slightly seven months after the labor market was slammed by the coronavirus pandemic.

About 787,000 people filed for state unemployment benefits in the week ending October 17, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. Another 345,000 applied for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, a federal program for those who don't qualify for state benefits.

Economists had expected about 870,000 jobless applications to be reported this week. Thursday's figure is much lower than expected partly thanks to revised figures from California, the state with the most unemployment applications.

Read more here.

By Irina Ivanova

Spain reaches 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases

Spain this week became the first country in western Europe to record more than 1 million confirmed infections, as it struggles to contain a resurgence of the new coronavirus.

After being brought under control during a nationwide lockdown in the spring, the virus started spreading again a couple of months after restrictions were lifted and people started to move around and socialize again. By September, hospitals in Madrid were once again beginning to fill up as Spain recorded the highest numbers of new infections in the 27-country European Union. 

Confirmed cases rose beyond the 1 million mark on Wednesday, when nearly 17,000 new infections were added. 

Virus Outbreak Spain One Million
Medical residents take part on a protest against their working conditions during a strike in Barcelona, Spain, on October 20, 2020. Emilio Morenatti/AP

Experts say the real number is probably much higher because insufficient testing, asymptomatic cases and other issues impede authorities from capturing the true scale of the outbreak.

Like elsewhere in Europe, the resurgence has prompted authorities to impose restrictions on travel and social gatherings. Curfews are being considered in some of the most affected areas, including the capital, Madrid. The northern region of Navarra has prohibited non-essential travel from and to the region.

By The Associated Press

Belgian foreign minister in intensive care for COVID-19

Belgian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes has been hospitalized in intensive care with the coronavirus.

Wilmes, who was in charge when the first wave of infections hit the country this spring, now serves in the new government led by Alexander De Croo.

Elke Pattyn, a spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry, told The Associated Press that Wilmes is in a stable condition and conscious. She said her condition "is not worrying."

The 45-year-old Wilmes, who was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday evening, said last week she thought she got infected within her family circle.

Belgium, a country of 11.5 million inhabitants, has been severely hit by the coronavirus and is currently seeing a sharp rise in new cases. More than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus-related complications in Belgium.

By The Associated Press

UAE breaks single-day record for new cases

The United Arab Emirates has broken its single-day record for new coronavirus cases with 1,578 confirmed. The cases reported Thursday bring the country's total in the pandemic to over 120,700, including 470 deaths. 

Despite an uptick in infections in recent weeks, authorities have pushed ahead with reopening the country.

Schools are back in session and Dubai, the region's air travel hub, is welcoming back tourists. Earlier this week, authorities in Dubai allowed weddings and other major social events to resume under strict health conditions.

By The Associated Press

Slovenia and Croatia set new case records

Slovenia's confirmed coronavirus cases have soared to another daily record of 1,663, and the country has reported the deaths of five more people with COVID-19. Neighboring Croatia also set a new daily record on Thursday with 1,563 new cases and 13 deaths, most of them in the capital, Zagreb.

Authorities in both countries have warned that if the infection rates continue to climb at their current pace, hospitals could run out of unoccupied beds.

Several general hospitals in Croatia have already been turned into facilities treating only COVID-19 patients and are preparing tents to accommodate more people.

Confirmed infections now constitute over 25% of all virus tests in Slovenia, well above the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization.

Health officials have called on the Slovenian government to introduce stricter measures to combat the virus spread, including a complete lockdown of the small Alpine state of 2 million people.

By The Associated Press
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