Coronavirus updates: Space Force’s second in command tests positive

By MORGAN WINSOR, EMILY SHAPIRO and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide.

Over 44 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has also varied from country to country.

The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 8.8 million diagnosed cases and at least 227,673 deaths.

Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

Here’s how the news developed Wednesday. All times Eastern:

Oct 28, 10:38 pm
Thirteen Arkansas lawmakers, state surgeon general test positive for COVID-19

Thirteen Arkansas lawmakers have so far tested positive for COVID-19, as an outbreak among state legislators grew by two on Wednesday, officials announced.

The number includes nine House members and four senators.

Also on Wednesday, the state surgeon general, Dr. Gregory Bledsoe, revealed that he had tested positive for the virus. The diagnosis comes two days after he announced on social media that his parents, wife and two of his three children had tested positive for the virus “in spite of our best attempts to distance & wear masks.”

The state recorded 952 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, for a total of 107,679.

Oct 28, 10:16 pm
COVID-19 cases increasing in 42 states and territories: HHS

New coronavirus cases are increasing in 42 states and territories, according to an internal Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News.

Six jurisdictions are at a plateau, and new cases are decreasing in eight, the memo said.
 
The number of new cases reported from Oct. 21 to 27 increased by 21.7% compared to the previous seven-day period, according to the memo.

New deaths increased 8.8% during that same time period.

The national test-positivity rate also increased to 6.2% from 5.8% in week-to-week comparisons.

Across the country, 23% of hospitals have more than 80% of their intensive care unit beds filled, according to HHS. That number was 17% to 18% during the summertime peak.

Hospital strain is a concern in several states, including Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Hospitals in New Mexico are seeing higher numbers of younger patients, while ones in Oklahoma City are reducing elective surgeries and calling for volunteers with medical backgrounds due to a surge in COVID-19 patients, the memo noted.

Oct 28, 8:39 pm
Space Force general tests positive

The No. 2 in command of the Space Force has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to federal officials.

Gen. David D. Thompson, vice chief of space operations, took the test after he learned he came in contact with a close family member who contracted the virus, according to the U.S. Air Force.

“In accordance with established COVID policies, General Thompson is self-quarantining and working remotely from home,” the Air Force said in a statement.

ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

Oct 28, 6:30 pm
Americans will receive vaccine at no cost: Feds

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed Wednesday that any COVID-19 vaccine authorized or approved by Food and Drug Administration will be available at no cost to Americans.

The agency will require that Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance to cover the cost of administering the vaccine and said medical providers will be reimbursed for administering vaccines to individuals without insurance.

“The rule covers both vaccines authorized through an emergency authorization and full licensing approval,” CMS Administrator Seema Varma said on a call with reporters.

Varma said that the policy will be in place regardless of the results of the election.

ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

Oct 28, 6:18 pm
Cases expected to increase in 49 states, half substantially: Report

The PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia released a coronavirus forecast Wednesday saying “all states except Hawaii will see increased case counts over the next four weeks with at least half expected to have substantial case growth.”

“The researchers warn that the projected rate of growth of this fall wave could overwhelm contact tracing efforts and threaten the effectiveness of school safety plans, eventually necessitating many schools to revert to online learning, particularly for older students, until the surge has passed,” PolicyLab said in a statement.

Researchers forecast a higher growth in the Northeast as temperatures continue to drop.

“Resurgence risk [is] growing more quickly than anticipated in the warmer climate zones of the southern U.S,” PolicyLab said.

ABC News’ Brian Hartman contributed to this report.

Oct 28, 5:00 pm
Study finds antibodies last up to 5 months for most

A Mount Sinai study published Wednesday in the journal “Science” found that most people who experienced mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms have “a robust antibody response” that kills the virus and is “relatively stable for at least five months.”
 
“While some reports have come out saying antibodies to this virus go away quickly, we have found just the opposite — that more than 90 percent of people who were mildly or moderately ill produce an antibody response strong enough to neutralize the virus, and the response is maintained for many months,” Florian Krammer, a senior author of the paper and a professor of vaccinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a statement.

“Determining the duration and levels of antibody that protect us from reinfection” is “essential for effective vaccine development,” Krammer added.
 
The study included data from 30,082 people.

Oct 28, 3:55 pm
France braces for partial lockdown

French President Emmanuel Macron announced a partial lockdown on Wednesday.

Bars and restaurants will be closed and private and public gatherings will be prohibited nationwide.

Permission slips will be required for outings, but schools and various public institutions and factories will remain open.

The restrictions, which will be reviewed every 15 days, go into effect Thursday night and will last through at least Dec. 1.

Macron’s announcement follows an alarming spike in deaths from the virus as in addition to record numbers of new cases across France.

“The virus is circulating in France at a speed that even the most pessimistic forecasts had not predicted,” Macron said. “If we do not put the brakes on hard today our hospitals will be overwhelmed.”

On Tuesday, France lost 527 lives to COVID-19, Macron said. As of Wednesday, the nation’s positivity rate was 18.6%.

France’s public health agency has confirmed over 1,198,000 cases and 35,541 deaths.

ABC News’ Ibtissem Guenfoud and Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

Oct 28, 3:30 pm
MLB slams Dodgers player for returning to field after testing positive

Major League Baseball criticized Justin Turner for returning to the field Tuesday night when his team won the World Series after the Dodgers’ third baseman was removed from the game because he tested positive for COVID-19.

Turner was put into isolation, according to a statement from MLB, but he “chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of others.”

“Turner’s decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk,” MLB said. “When MLB Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.”

The Commissioner’s Office is investigating.

The Dodgers were tested Tuesday night, and both the Rays and Dodgers were tested again Wednesday, MLB said, adding that the teams’ “travel back to their home cities will be determined after being approved by the appropriate authorities.”

The Dodgers said Wednesday that the team will wait to celebrate with the fans “until it is safe to do so.”

Oct 28, 2:32 pm
April 2021 Boston Marathon postponed

The Boston Marathon set for April 2021 will be postponed until at least the fall of 2021, the Boston Athletic Association announced Wednesday.

The postponement comes amid a rise of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts. This year’s marathon was canceled.

Monday marked the state’s highest daily case count since the spring, the Boston Herald reported. Last week brought multiple days of daily case counts over 1,000, which the state hadn’t seen since the spring, the Herald said.

Massachusetts now has over 149,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 9,664 fatalities.

ABC News’ Leo Mayorga contributed to this report.

Oct 28, 1:28 pm
Italy, Greece report record increases again

Italy and Greece both reached new records for daily COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row.

Italy reported 24,991 new cases on Wednesday, breaking the record of 21,994 cases from Tuesday, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

Italy now has over 589,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 37,905 fatalities.

Greece set a new record with 1,547 new cases on Wednesday, up from Tuesday’s record of 1,259, according to the National Public Health Organization.

Greece now has over 34,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 603 deaths.

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

Oct 28, 12:32 pm
Dodgers delay World Series celebration after Turner’s positive test

One day after winning the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers said Wednesday that the team will wait to celebrate with the fans “until it is safe to do so.”

While the Dodgers were playing the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night, third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled from the series-winning game, ESPN reported.

Turner tweeted that he had no symptoms and “just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine.” 

 

 

Oct 28, 12:18 pm
Fauci says we won’t have ‘some semblance of normality’ until at least 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Australians on Wednesday, “I think it will be easily by the end of 2021, and perhaps into the next year, before we start having some semblance of normality.”

Fauci defined “normal” as packing theaters and restaurants operating at full capacity, according to The Age.

Fauci applauded Australia’s response to the pandemic.

“Australia is one of the countries that has done quite well. New Zealand has done well,” he said, according to The Age.

“I would like to say the same for the U.S., but the numbers speak for themselves,” Fauci said, describing the U.S. as “getting worse and worse.” 

Oct 28, 11:47 am
Wisconsin football on pause following 12 COVID-19 cases

The University of Wisconsin football team is pausing all activities for at least one week following an “elevated number” of COVID-19 cases, the team announced.
 
As of Wednesday morning, 12 people — six athletes and six staff members — had tested positive within the last five days, the team said.

Wisconsin was set to plan Nebraska on Saturday but the game has been canceled.

Oct 28, 10:29 am
France braces for possible nationwide lockdown

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce further restrictions to curb a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Macron is slated to make a televised address on Wednesday evening, after holding emergency meetings with government officials to discuss the COVID-19 response. A four-week nationwide lockdown is reportedly among the options being considered, according to French media.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France Inter radio on Tuesday that citizens “must expect difficult decisions.”

Macron’s announcement would follow an alarming spike in deaths from COVID-19 as well as record numbers of new cases across France. Nighttime curfews have already been imposed in many areas, including Paris.

France’s public health agency has confirmed 1,198,695 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 35,541 deaths.

Oct 28, 9:07 am
Poland sees record rise in new cases

Poland confirmed another 18,820 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, its highest single-day increase yet.

An additional 236 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered across the Central European country in the past 24 hours, according to the Polish Ministry of Health.

Poland’s cumulative total currently stands at 299,049 cases with 4,851 deaths.

Meanwhile, nearly 14,000 COVID-19 patients remained hospitalized in Poland as of Wednesday morning, including 1,150 who are on ventilators, the health ministry said.

Oct 28, 8:03 am
Eli Lilly to supply US with 300,000 vials of experimental antibody drug

Eli Lilly and Company announced Wednesday an initial agreement with the U.S. government to supply 300,000 vials of one of its experimental antibody treatments for $375 million to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal government will accept the vials of bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody drug, if it is granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The initial agreement also provides the option for the federal government to purchase up to an additional 650,000 vials through June 2021, according to a press release from Eli Lilly and Company.

The Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical firm submitted a request earlier this month for the FDA to authorize emergency use of bamlanivimab in non-hospitalized, high-risk individuals with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.

“The U.S. is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations,” said David Ricks, chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, “and we believe bamlanivimab could be an important therapeutic option that can bring value to the overall healthcare system, as it has shown a potential benefit in clinical outcomes with a reduction in viral load and rates of symptoms and hospitalizations.”

If the FDA authorizes use of the therapeutic, the federal government will allocate the doses to state and territorial health departments which will then determine which health care facilities receive the drug for use in outpatient care. The government-purchased doses would become available to Americans at no cost, though health care professionals could charge for administering the intravenous infusion, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“This agreement with Eli Lilly is part of Operation Warp Speed’s efforts to position the federal government to distribute potential therapeutics, allowing faster distribution if trials are successful,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

The deal comes after the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced Monday that it has stopped testing a combination of bamlanivimab with the antiviral medication remedesivir in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, after an independent review of results found a “lack of clinical benefit.” Eli Lilly and Company said that all other studies of bamlanivimab, including its own phase 3 clinical trials, will continue and that it remains “confident” that the drug may help prevent progression of COVID-19 for individuals earlier in the course of their disease.

Oct 28, 6:06 am
Russia’s daily death toll reaches record high for second straight day

Russia registered 346 more deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, setting a new national record, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.

The country’s previous record of 320 deaths in a 24-hour reporting period was set just a day earlier.

An additional 16,202 new cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed in the past day, down from Sunday’s peak of 17,347, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.

Moscow remains the epicenter of the country’s outbreak and recent surge. More than 22% of the new cases — 3,670 — and over 21% of the new deaths — 61 — were reported in the Russian capital.

The nationwide, cumulative total now stands at 1,563,976 cases with 26,935 deaths, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.

The Eastern European country of 145 million people has the fourth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India and Brazil, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Oct 28, 5:52 am
South Africa’s president enters self-quarantine

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is under self-quarantine after a guest at a dinner he attended over the weekend tested positive for COVID-19.

“The President is showing no symptoms at this time and will, in line with COVID-19 health advice, be tested should symptoms manifest,” Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement Wednesday. “The President will perform his duties remotely and will observe the guidelines that apply to self-quarantine.”

Ramaphosa attended a fundraising dinner for the Adopt-a-School Foundation at a hotel in Johannesburg on Saturday evening. Thirty-five guests were in attendance at the event and were the only people hosted by the venue at that time.

“The event adhered stringently to COVID-19 protocols and directives on screening, social distancing and the wearing of masks,” Ramaphosa’s office said. “As was the case with all guests, the President himself removed his mask only when dining and addressing the guests.”

On Tuesday, the Adopt-a-School Foundation advised the dinner guests that an attendee had tested positive for COVID-19 after showing symptoms on Sunday. The South African president had already attended two other events Tuesday morning before being alerted of the infected guest, who is currently “receiving medical attention,” according to Ramaphosa’s office.

“The President is screened regularly by the South African Military Health Service and subjects himself to screening at venues where he participates in engagements,” his office said.

South Africa has confirmed more than 717,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including at least 19,053 deaths. The country accounts for almost half of all diagnosed cases on the African continent, according to data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oct 28, 5:19 am
Russia’s foreign minister in self-isolation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

Lavrov, however, is “feeling well,” according to Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Following a contact with an individual infected with Covid-19, Sergei Lavrov will opt for self-isolation,” the ministry said in a statement Tuesday. “The visits and meetings planned earlier are postponed.”

Oct 28, 4:24 am
US reports over 73,000 new cases, nearly 1,000 deaths

There were 73,240 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The latest daily tally is nearly 6,500 more than the previous day but still less than the country’s all-time high of 83,757 new cases set on Friday.

An additional 985 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide Tuesday, more than double the previous day’s count but still down from a peak of 2,666 new deaths in mid-April.

A total of 8,779,653 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 226,723 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 80,000 for the first time on Oct. 23.

An internal memo from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that was obtained by ABC News on Tuesday night shows the number of new COVID-19 cases recorded across the nation has increased substantially in week-over-week comparisons, as has the number of new deaths from the disease.

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