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A day after a vaccine maker hit pause on its COVID-19 clinical trial, the nation's top health experts said Wednesday that the delay shows the degree of safety going into testing the candidate vaccines.
AstraZeneca put a hold on its COVID-19 clinical trials worldwide while it investigated an adverse reaction in a trial participant in the United Kingdom. The interruption represents the first major hiccup in what has been a remarkably smooth path in the historically rapid vaccine effort spanning the globe, but Dr. Anthony Fauci said such pauses are not uncommon.
"It's really one of the safety valves that you have on clinical trials such as this, so it’s unfortunate that it happened," Fauci said.
The news comes as 900,000 deaths from COVID-19 are recorded worldwide, 190,000 of which are from the United States.
Some significant developments:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that New York City could resume indoor dining at the end of the month at 25% capacity with other restrictions.
Five counties in California, including Orange County south of Los Angeles, are moving ahead with reopening plans amid a decline in confirmed coronavirus cases across the state. Places of worship, restaurants with indoor dining and movie theaters will soon be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday.
Honolulu is extending stay-at-home orders for another two weeks amid a surge in cases.
Internationally, India reported another 89,000 cases on Wednesday after becoming the world's second hardest-hit country the previous day.
The Transportation Security Agency reported its busiest day since March over the Labor Day weekend: About 935,000 passengers went through TSA checkpoints on Saturday.
Senate Republicans unveiled a coronavirus relief plan far smaller than what lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent weeks arguing over. It's a bill that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says isn't perfect.
📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 6.3 million confirmed cases and more than 190,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there are almost 27.6 million cases and more than 900,000 fatalities.
📰 What we're reading: A study by a California research group estimates that the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota led to more than 260,000 coronavirus cases in the month following the event. Gov. Kristi Noem called the study "fiction."
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state
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A spike in teacher deaths raises concerns as school year starts
Teachers in at least three states have died after bouts with the coronavirus since the dawn of the new school year, and a teachers’ union leader worries that the return to in-person classes will have a deadly impact across the U.S. if proper precautions aren’t taken.
AshLee Marinis, a 34-year-old special education teacher in Missouri, died after being hospitalized for three weeks. Elsewhere, a third-grade teacher died Monday in South Carolina, and two other educators died recently in Mississippi — which has reported 604 cases among school workers.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said schools need guidelines such as mandatory face coverings and strict social distancing rules to reopen safely.
“If community spread is too high as it is in Missouri and Mississippi, if you don’t have the infrastructure of testing, and if you don’t have the safeguards that prevent the spread of viruses in the school, we believe that you cannot reopen in person,” Weingarten said.
– The Associated Press
Gov. Whitmer’s virus-related powers reach top Michigan court
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s bold use of emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic reached the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday as justices heard hours of arguments about whether she has illegally made far-reaching decisions without input from the Legislature.
Justice David Viviano raised pointed and repeated questions about whether the 1945 emergency law Whitmer relied on was ever intended to deal with a health pandemic.
Deputy Solicitor General Eric Restuccia, representing the governor's office, pushed back, saying that although the Emergency Powers of Governor Act does not specifically mention epidemics, it says it can be invoked when "public safety is imperiled" and it references disasters and catastrophes that would clearly include major threats to public health.
– The Associated Press and Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press
Events at near-empty stadiums still linked to infections, study finds
Professional soccer matches played in near-empty stadiums were linked to higher COVID-19 cases and deaths in the area, a study at the University of Reading found.
Researchers studied hundreds of soccer matches in England in February and March and found that a match led to six more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the area where the match took place, two more COVID-19 deaths and three additional excess deaths.
Even stadiums that are 80% empty are unlikely to reduce rates of COVID-19 transmission without effective social distancing measures for fans before, during and after matches, the researchers concluded.
"Even when stadiums are only partially filled, fans tend to pack together in groups. They also mix in bar areas, toilets, and queues, as well as in pubs, shops and restaurants outside the grounds," said sports economist and study author James Reade. "This behaviour presents an effective route for airborne viruses to spread, and is no less prevalent with smaller crowds."
– Grace Hauck
Britain bans gatherings of more than 6 people
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock says new limits on social gatherings in England to six people are set to stay in place for the "foreseeable future," potentially until or even through Christmas.
Hancock said the new limit for both indoor and outdoor gatherings, which will come into force and be enforceable by law from Monday, will provide "more clarity" to people and should help keep a lid on a recent spike in coronavirus cases.
Though there are exemptions, such as for schools, workplaces and "life events" like funerals and weddings, the government is clearly hoping that the new limits will be easily understood and followed. Unlike the previous set of guidelines, people could be fined for not following the rules – 100 pounds ($130) for a first offense, up to a potential 3,200 pounds ($4,100).
– The Associated Press
New York City to resume indoor dining at month's end
Indoor dining is set to resume in New York City after being stopped in late March because of COVID-19. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that restaurants can add indoor dining at 25% capacity in the city starting Sept. 30.
The rest of the state has been allowed to have limited indoor dining, and the entire state has had outdoor dining since late spring as the virus' infection rate has stayed below 1% for 33 straight days.
New York City has had the most COVID deaths in the state, and Cuomo and city officials have been cautious in reopening businesses, particularly in the city.
The safety guidance will require temperature checks at the door for all indoor customers and require one member of each party to provide contact information for COVID tracing if needed. Indoor dining will also prohibit any bar service, and masks must be worn when not seated at tables. Restaurants will have to close at midnight, and the state is encouraging them to improve infiltration systems.
– Joseph Spector, New York State Team
Trump said he knew the coronavirus was deadly but chose to 'play it down'
President Donald Trump told journalist Bob Woodward that he knew the coronavirus was more deadly and contagious than the flu while he continued to downplay its dangers to the public, according to Woodward's new book "Rage."
"I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic," Trump told Woodward on March 19 in excerpts of audio interviews obtained by CNN.
In interviews with Woodward from December 2019 to July 2020, Trump discussed the threat of the coronavirus with a level of detail that he had not yet acknowledged to the public, noting Feb. 7 that it was "deadly stuff," and "more deadly than your – even your strenuous flus."
While Trump discussed the threat of the virus to Woodward, he continued to assure the public that it was "under control" in the U.S. and would "go away."
– Jeanine Santucci
Three-time Olympic gold medalist decries mask wearing, then apologizes
Three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings wrote in a recent Instagram post that she did not wear a mask while shopping over the weekend, which she referred to as "a little exercise in being brave."
The consensus among public health experts is that wearing a mask is a crucial preventive measure amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Walsh Jennings said that she wants "people to stop living in fear and start living in a way that strengthens themselves body, mind and spirit."
The next day, Walsh Jennings offered an apology after facing sharp criticism, including from fellow beach volleyball player Jennifer Kessy and Walsh Jennings' own sister, Kelli Mezzetti.
– Chris Bumbaca
NIH head: No way anyone could know the exact date vaccine will be ready
Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said health officials do not expect that all six candidate COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. will be proved safe and effective in clinical trials but that safety was "foremost in all our minds."
Collins, testifying before a Senate panel Wednesday, said three of the six candidates are in Phase 3 trials, and that the hold on AstraZeneca's trial is a "concrete example" of the safety measures in place to pause a trial after even one illness.
Collins also said he was cautiously optimistic about a vaccine being ready by the end of the year but that no scientist would be able to say whether a vaccine could be ready by a specific date – a reference to President Donald Trump's repeated promise a vaccine will be ready by Election Day.
Collins was also optimistic about the potential efficacy of the vaccine. He said that if he had to guess, he would expect a vaccine to have longer lasting efficacy than a seasonal flu vaccine. However, Collins cautioned that scientists won't know for sure until later on in the trials.
Fauci: Vaccine trial pause is unfortunate but not uncommon
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called AstraZeneca's hold on its COVID-19 candidate vaccine trials "unfortunate" but said it was "not uncommon at all" during vaccine development.
“It’s really one of the safety valves that you have on clinical trials such as this, so it’s unfortunate that it happened,” Fauci told CBS “This Morning” on Wednesday. “Hopefully, they’ll work it out and be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial but you don’t know. They need to investigate it further.”
AstraZeneca, one of the companies racing to make a vaccine against the coronavirus, said Tuesday that it was investigating an adverse reaction in a trial participant in the United Kingdom and paused its COVID-19 clinical trials worldwide.
The company, which is currently working with the University of Oxford on Phase 3 of testing its vaccine, said the pause was "a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials."
– Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub
Pope Francis: Health of all is a 'common good'
Pope Francis, in an appeal Wednesday against the "partisan interests" emerging among some nations and groups during the COVID-19 pandemic, made a plea for all to look out for the health of others as well as themselves.
"The coronavirus is showing us that each person’s true good is a common good and, vice versa, the common good is a true good for the person. Health, in addition to being an individual good, is also a public good. A healthy society is one that takes care of everyone’s health," Francis said in a public address.
Francis resumed his weekly public audiences last week after a six-month hiatus because of the pandemic. A limited crowd gathered to see Francis, with chairs were spaced out in the San Damaso courtyard inside the Apostolic Palace.
BioNTech CEO confident vaccine will be ready for approval by mid-October
BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin said in an interview with CNN that his company's vaccine being developed along with Pfizer could be ready for regulatory approval by mid-October or early November.
"It has an excellent profile and I consider this vaccine ... near perfect, and which has a near perfect profile," Sahin told CNN on Tuesday. Sahin's comments came the same day another candidate vaccine hit a snag as AstraZeneca paused its trial after an unexplained illness.
The comments also come after BioNTech and Pfizer were among the nine biopharmaceutical companies that issued a letter Tuesday pledging to fully vet their COVID-19 candidate vaccines before asking for federal approval to market them.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine could be ready before the November election and that if it wasn't, it was because of a "deep state" conspiracy against him.
Majority of young adults live with their parents for first time since Great Depression
The number of 18- to 29-year-olds living with their parents reached record highs as more than half reported residing at home in July. In February, 47% of young adults reported living at home. That number grew to 52% by July, or roughly an increase of 2.6 million people, according to data from the Pew Research Center.
The number is higher than any previous measurements, Pew says. At the end of the Great Depression, based on data from the 1940 census, 48% of young adults lived at home. The peak during the Great Depression may have been higher, but there is no available data, Pew says.
The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly hard for young Americans, and Pew's data show many moved home due to job loss or college campus closures.
Pennsylvania college football player dies of coronavirus complications
California University of Pennsylvania football player Jamain Stephens, 20, has died, the school announced Tuesday. Stephens, a senior defensive lineman, was the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Jamain Stephens.
Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, where Stephens played, said in a statement posted to Facebook on Tuesday his cause of death was related to complications involving COVID-19. It is unclear how he contracted the disease.
California University was not playing football this fall with COVID-19 health concerns forcing sports to be halted by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. A cause of death was not given in the California University announcement.
– Erick Smith
Trump says North Carolina restrictions will hurt his reelection bid
President Donald Trump kicked off a campaign rally on Tuesday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by accusing the state's governor of using coronavirus restrictions to hurt his reelection chances.
"Your state should be open," Trump said to a crowd of hundreds that erupted in cheers at the Smith Reynolds Airport.
The president, still stung from the loss of the GOP convention that was due to take place in Charlotte last month but moved to a nearly all-virtual event over COVID-19, said North Carolina and other key battleground states such as Michigan were keeping their states shut for "political reasons."
"On Nov. 4, every one of those states will be open. They're doing it for political reasons," Trump said in remarks that lasted 76 minutes.
– John Fritze, Courtney Subramanian and David Jackson
Los Angeles sets COVID-19 guidelines ahead of Halloween celebrations
Los Angeles County health officials have set guidelines for Halloween celebrations amid the coronavirus pandemic. The city banned door-to-door trick-or-tricking, trunk-or-treating events where children receive treats from car-to-car, haunted houses, festivals and other related events.
"Door-to-door trick-or-treating is not allowed because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors especially in neighborhoods that are popular with trick or treaters," the guidelines say.
Instead, officials are encouraging families to celebrate by attending virtual events, car parades, drive-in movie theaters and other activities that follow the city's public health guidelines.
TSA passenger screenings top 900,000 twice over Labor Day weekend
The Transportation Security Agency reported Tuesday that more people flew over the Labor Day weekend than at any other point in the COVID-19 pandemic. About 935,308 passengers went through TSA checkpoints on Monday, setting a new record. That betters the previous high of 862,949 that was set on Aug. 16.
The number of passengers who went through TSA checkpoints went over 900,000 twice during the long holiday weekend – first on Friday with 968,673, then again on Monday. Thursday also saw higher-than-average traffic with 877,673 passengers being screened.
Though the TSA numbers approached 1 million for the first time since the country went on lockdown, they're still a far cry from Labor Day weekend in 2019, when more than 2 million passed through checkpoints all but one day.
– Jayme Deerwester
Honolulu extends stay-at-home order
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Tuesday that he will extend an existing stay-at-home order for two weeks to control the coronavirus in Hawaii's largest city.
The stay-at-home order will be kept in place through Sept. 24. But Caldwell said he will modify the rules to allow solo activity at beaches, parks and trails. Individuals will be able to run, sit or eat by themselves in these public places beginning Thursday.
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: 900K deaths worldwide, 190K in US