Americans have a long way to go for “herd immunity” given that only about 9% of adults in the U.S. have been exposed to COVID-19. That’s according to the largest study so far that looks for evidence of the disease in peoples’ blood.

California’s health secretary said Friday that there have been increases in the number of newly confirmed cases, hospital emergency department visits for COVID-19 and new hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases.

And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in a move to reopen the state’s economy despite the spread of the coronavirus.

Some significant developments:

California is seeing a concerning uptick in cases, which appear to be attributable to gatherings around Labor Day.

Texas A&M’s Midnight Yell was a little “eerie” because no fans were there due to COVID restrictions.

Areas with high numbers of Black and non-white Latino residents had higher infection rates than mostly white communities, a study on herd immunity found.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 7 million cases and 204,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been more than 32.7 million cases and over 991,000 fatalities.

📰 What we’re reading: Coronavirus has exposed a secret underbelly of the travel business: Ponzi-style schemes to pay bookings.

🗺️ 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.

Woman held against her will in quarantine, Guam judge finds

A Superior Court judge in Guam has determined that the Department of Public Health and Social Services did not follow the law when quarantining travelers after multiple passengers filed legal action against the government’s quarantine policy.

After hearing from people held in the facility, Superior Court of Guam Judge Elyze Iriarte determined some passengers did not quarantine voluntarily, and the department held one woman against her will.

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“For at least 10 days, she was confined against her will without a meaningful and prompt opportunity to be heard regarding such confinement and not advised of her right to counsel,” Iriarte wrote in her decision to release the woman and her children from the government facility.

A newly-updated quarantine policy says that everyone entering the island by land or sea is subject to a 14-day quarantine, with all passengers going to a government of Guam facility unless “the individual qualified for quarantine at an approved rental lodging or personal residence as authorized by (Public Health).” 

— Jasmine Stole Weiss, Pacific Daily News

After 7 months, Michigan movie theaters to reopen in two weeks 

Michigan’s movie theaters and other venues can reopen in two weeks after nearly seven months of closure during the coronavirus pandemic, and the limit on how many people can attend funerals and other indoor events is being raised.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also issued an order Friday requiring the vast majority of students to wear masks in classrooms as of Oct. 5, and mandating that public and private schools publish information on coronavirus cases.

Indoor cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities and trampoline parks can reopen starting Oct. 9. A 10-person cap on indoor events has been revised to instead allow 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20% of fixed seating capacity, up to a maximum of 500 people.

US is nowhere near herd immunity, study finds

By the end of July, about 9 percent of American adults had been exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to a new study of dialysis patients, the largest yet looking for evidence of the disease in people’s blood.

That data shows the American public is a long way from achieving “herd immunity” – having enough infections to prevent further spread of the virus. 

The infection rates varied from essentially zero in some states that avoided infection by mid-summer, to more than one-third of residents in parts of New York hard-hit in the spring.

The new study, published in The Lancet, is in line with previous, smaller studies, and also showed areas with high numbers of Black and non-white Latino residents had higher infection rates than mostly white communities.

– Karen Weintraub

Public health experts ask Pfizer not to seek OK for new vaccine until late November

More than 60 public health experts have called on the pharmaceutical company Pfizer not to seek approval for its coronavirus vaccine until it has followed trial participants for at least two months after their second dose, according to one of the signators.

“To be successful, the public needs to have the utmost trust in the vaccine and the science behind it,” the letter said, according to Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine who posted the letter Saturday on Twitter.

The Washington Post reports that Pfizer said in a statement that it shared the writers’ “commitment to rigorous safety standards,” but did not directly respond to their request. Pfizer, along with other pharmaceutical companies, signed a pledge earlier this month not to cut corners on a coranvirus vaccine.

The letter noted that since many trial participants have not yet received their second dose, monitoring should occur through at least late November before an application for an Emergency Use Authorization should be considered by the Food and drug administration.

It said the submission of an application before that standard would “would severely erode public trust”  and “prolong the pandemic, with disastrous consequences.” 

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine would be available by Election Day, Nov. 3, or sooner.

6 states post record new cases; 4 mark record deaths

A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Friday shows six states set records for new cases in a week while four states had a record number of deaths in a week.

New case records were set in Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, and also Puerto Rico. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The United States has reported 7,034,432 cases and 203,789 deaths as of Saturday morning.

– Michael Stucka

California cases, which had gone down, now seeing concerning upticks

California’s health secretary said Friday that there have been increases in the number of newly confirmed cases, hospital emergency department visits for COVID-19 and new hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases.

Dr. Mark Ghaly says the trends appear largely attributable to the Labor Day holiday and could lead to an 89% increase in hospitalizations in the next month.

Ghaly notes the state is heading into another hot weekend, which could increase people gathering with others. He urged renewed efforts to prevent spread.

COVID-19 forces Texas A&M to keep fans out of Midnight Yell

Texas A&M’s five Yell Leaders ran into an almost empty Kyle Field as Friday night crept into Saturday morning for their Midnight Yell.

It’s a tradition almost 90 years old, normally held in front of more than 25,000 people before every football game. No fans were allowed this year because of the coronavirus, leaving the Yell Leaders to perform only to the school’s band, their voices echoing in the cavernous space.

“It was a little eerie, but I think it went well,” head Yell Leader Keller Cox said through his mask moments after it ended.

WHO official: 2M deaths ‘likely’ before a vaccine widely available

The global death toll from the new coronavirus sits just below 1 million, but without further action to slow the spread, it will likely double before a vaccine is widely available, a World Health Organization official said Friday.

Dr. Mike Ryan, head the WHO’s health emergencies program, said that 2 million deaths was “not only imaginable, but sadly very likely” in the absence of increased testing, tracing, social distancing, mask wearing and other measures to slow the spread of the virus.

“The time for action is now on every single aspect of this strategic approach,” Ryan said.

Florida Gov. DeSantis lifts all virus restrictions on restaurants, businesses

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday he was lifting COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and other businesses across Florida as he pushed to reopen the state’s economy.

DeSantis also said any local government limitations affecting restaurants and other businesses would have to be justified by his administration.

“We’re not closing anything going forward,” DeSantis said, while insisting that the state is prepared with plans in place if infections increase again.

The Phase 3 order will allow theme parks to operate at full capacity and lift any restrictions on gatherings, although the state still is recommending people avoid crowded spaces.

Bars can go beyond 50% capacity, if local governments give them the green light, DeSantis said.

– John Kennedy, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: California cases up, herd immunity a long way off



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