Coronavirus updates: Nearly 300K more deaths than usual; Trump, Fauci and 'The Godfather;' Disneyland won't reopen soon

John Bacon, Jessica Flores and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
·15 min read

The top U.S. infectious disease expert is shrugging off sharp criticism from President Donald Trump while the U.S. is keeping its borders with Canada and Mexico closed for another month in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tapped "The Godfather" in describing his relationship with Trump.

"It’s like in 'The Godfather' – nothing personal, strictly business as far as I’m concerned," Fauci told Southern California AM radio station KNX1070. "I just want to do my job and take care of the people of this country."

Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said restrictions on non-essential travel will be extended through Nov. 21. The announcement comes days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it would keep its borders closed until the U.S. gains control of the coronavirus.

Some significant developments:

  • Fargo became the first city in North Dakota to issue a face mask mandate on Monday amid the state's rising coronavirus caseload.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a "strong recommendation" for people to wear a mask on trains, planes, buses and other transportation.

  • As states finalize their distribution plans for a COVID-19 vaccine, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will independently review any FDA-approved vaccines before passing one out.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.2 million cases and 220,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 40.5 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.

📚Read this: The latest in USA TODAY's Deadly Discrimination series looks at the 10 U.S. counties with the highest death rates from COVID-19. Seven have populations where people of color make up the majority.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

Melania Trump cancels trip to Ohio, cites 'lingering cough' from COVID-19

First lady Melania Trump canceled her first campaign rally in months on Tuesday, citing a "lingering cough" from her COVID-19 diagnosis earlier this month.

"Mrs. Trump continues to feel better every day following her recovery from COVID-19, but with a lingering cough, and out of an abundance of caution, she will not be traveling today," her chief of staff and spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Trump, 50, had been scheduled to accompany President Donald Trump to a campaign rally in Erie, Ohio, on Tuesday evening. It would have been her first campaign rally appearance in more than a year and her first public sighting since she and the president tested positive on Oct. 2 for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Maria Puente

Disneyland won't reopen anytime soon under new California theme park guidelines

California state health officials issued theme park rules Tuesday that make it clear Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other top attractions won't be reopening anytime soon.

The guidelines require that large theme parks can't open until the county in which they are situated reaches the highest of four tiers when it comes to COVID-19 spread.

But Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm are both situated in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, which is currently in the third category, labeled "substantial." Universal Studios Hollywood is in Los Angeles County, which is in the lowest category "widespread."

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said on a conference call that the new guidelines are realistic, noting that San Francisco County had achieved the highest level. That level requires there be less than one case a day per 100,000 residents and a testing positivity rate of less than 2%.

When large theme parks are allowed to reopen, they will be limited to 25% capacity.

— Jayme Deerwester and Chris Woodyard

Disneyland, which has been closed since the middle of March, doesn't have a reopen date yet.
Disneyland, which has been closed since the middle of March, doesn't have a reopen date yet.

Two-week stay-home order issued for University of Michigan students

Undergraduate students at the University of Michigan will have to stay largely in their dorms or apartments for two weeks, under a new order from Washtenaw County aimed at curbing a sharp uptick in cases at the school, which brought students back on campus for a hybrid semester.

According to the order, undergraduate students must remain in their residence, unless attending class, accessing dining services, or carrying out approved work that cannot be done remotely. Students who wish to return to a primary residence may do so only if they have completed the university’s procedures for leaving campus safely.

“The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” said Jimena Loveluck, health officer for Washtenaw County, which includes Ann Arbor and the university.

The number of cases reported last week at the University of Michigan, per its dashboard, was 301, up from 279 the previous week. In response to the order, the university said it is shifting more classes online.

– David Jesse and Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press

What will sway Americans to take a COVID-19 vaccine? Efficacy, low adverse effects and politics, survey says

A recent survey found Americans’ willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine may be determined by its medical effectiveness as well as politics.

According to the survey of nearly 2,000 adults, published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open awaiting peer review, people were most swayed by vaccine efficacy, adverse effects and duration of protection.

Researchers at Cornell University found Americans were about 16% more likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine if it was 90% effective instead of 50%. Americans were about 7% more likely to get the vaccine if incidence of major adverse effects was 1 in 1 million as opposed to 1 in 10,000.

However, there’s also a political component.

According to the survey, Americans would be more willing to get the vaccine if endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization than if it was endorsed by any of the candidates running for president.

The probability of choosing a vaccine was lowest when it was recommended by President Donald Trump, but people were only about 2% more likely to get a vaccine when it was endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Rheumatoid arthritis drug tocilizumab advances as a COVID-19 treatment

The list of drugs shown as effective for treating COVID-19 got longer Tuesday.

In a large clinical study, tocilizumab, an immune modulator long used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, showed it can save lives if given to critically ill COVID-19 patients within the first two days of being admitted to an intensive care unit.

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, showed just over 27% of ICU patients treated with tocilizumab died within a month, compared with 37% of those just as seriously ill who did not receive the drug.

Tocilizumab, a so-called monoclonal antibody, has been used during the outbreak because of its effect on tamping down immune over-reactions, which have been common with COVID-19.

However, smaller studies, including one published at the same time by the same journal have shown mixed results, with some finding the drug did not reduce deaths.

– Karen Weintraub

Mountain West Conference cans football game as COVID-19 concerns surge

The Mountain West Conference has called off the college football game Saturday between Colorado State and New Mexico due to coronavirus concerns in New Mexico, marking the 30th Football Bowl Subdivision game either canceled or postponed since the season began.

"Due to the prevalence of the COVID-19 virus in Bernalillo County and in accordance with state guidelines, the University of New Mexico is unable to participate in the scheduled football game on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Colorado State University," read a release from the Mountain West.

"Therefore, the Mountain West is canceling the game and declaring it a no contest. There is no plan to reschedule the game."

The Mountain West schedule begins Saturday, the first of eight consecutive weeks for an eight-game schedule. That leaves no room for makeups.

— Fort Collins Coloradoan

Pandemic has caused 285,000 more deaths than expected in a typical year

The coronavirus pandemic has left about 285,000 more people dead in the U.S. than would be expected in a typical year, two-thirds of them from COVID-19 itself and the rest from other causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

"The CDC said the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, has taken a disproportionate toll on Latinos and Blacks, as previous analyses have noted. But the CDC also found, surprisingly, that it has struck 25- to 44-year-olds very hard: Their “excess death” rate is up 26.5 percent over previous years, the largest change for any age group," the Post said.

According to the Post, "it is not clear whether that spike is caused by the well-recognized shift in covid-19 deaths toward younger people between May and August, or deaths from other causes, the CDC said."

Senate to vote on PPP reauthorization Tuesday as Pelosi backs away from stimulus deadline

The Republican-controlled Senate is set to vote on the reauthorization of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to back away from a Tuesday deadline to reach a deal on a COVID-19 stimulus plan before the election.

The bill reauthorizes another round of the small business loans but is likely to be blocked by Democrats, who have opposed standalone relief bills.

Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg her Tuesday ultimatum was not actually a deadline to have a deal but in fact "the day where we would have our terms on the table, to be able to go to the next step."

Asked how a bill could come together, Pelosi left open the possibility a bill might not be passed until after the election, saying "we could still continue the negotiations. It might not be finished by Election Day."

– Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes

US overdose deaths appear to rise amid pandemic

U.S. drug overdose deaths are on track to reach an all-time high, based on available information obtained by The Associated Press. Addiction experts blame the pandemic, which has left people stressed and isolated, disrupted treatment and recovery programs, and contributed to an increasingly dangerous illicit drug supply.

Before the coronavirus even arrived, the U.S. was in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history, with a record 71,000 overdose deaths last year.

This year’s tally likely will surpass that, according to preliminary death data from nine states reviewed by The Associated Press and national data on emergency responses to reported drug overdoses.

National numbers take months to tabulate, because tests and death investigations can take time even when medical examiners offices are not stretched thin by a pandemic.

COVID-19 patients die at 5 times the rate of patients with the flu, CDC study says

Patients who have COVID-19 are at five times more risk for in-hospital death than patients with influenza, according to a study published Tuesday in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Mortality and Morbidity report.

The report also found that COVID-19 patients were hospitalized three times longer than influenza patients and were admitted to the intensive care unit at double the rate.

The study looked at nearly 4,000 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 from March to May and nearly 5,500 hospitalized patients with influenza from Oct. 2018 to Feb. 2020 from the Veterans Health Administration.

It contributes to mounting evidence that COVID-19 may be deadlier than the seasonal flu, despite comparisons made by the Trump Administration.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Data reflects boom in new cases

Sixteen states set records for new cases in the seven-day period ending Monday, another sign that infections across the nation are booming, a USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins reveals. And 42 states had more cases in the latest week than in the week before, while 34 states had a higher rate of people testing positive than the week before, an analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows.

North Dakota is reporting cases on a per-capita basis at a rate about two-thirds higher than any state had during the spring or summer surges. Health officials said the daily positivity rate is just under 20%. The World Health Organization has recommended the number be under 5% before governments ease major restrictions.

More ominous news: New daily hospitalizations reached 37,744, the most in a single day since Aug. 25.

Michael Stucka

Who can persuade Americans to get a vaccine? CDC, yes; Trump or Biden, no

Americans would be more willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine if endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization than if it were endorsed by a presidential candidate, according to a survey published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open. The probability of choosing a vaccine was lowest when it was recommended by President Donald Trump, but it wasn’t significantly higher when it was endorsed by former vice president Joe Biden.

Vaccine efficacy, side effects and duration of protection had the largest impact on people’s willingness to get a vaccine, according to the survey. Americans were also less willing to get the vaccine if it was manufactured in China or the United Kingdom vs. in the United States. And an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was associated with a lower probability of getting a vaccine – people would be more willing if the vaccine went through the full FDA regulatory process.

Adrianna Rodriguez

Barista after profane tirade: 'I'm Black in America'; so I have learned to cope

A California Starbucks barista who was berated by a customer in a now-viral video says situations like this happen almost every day and she’s learned to cope with them. Alex Beckom, 19, shared the short clip taken by a bystander Sunday that shows Beckom serving the customer while calmly reminding the woman that she needs to wear a mask. The unidentified customer accuses Beckom of discriminating against her because she is a supporter of President Donald Trump and using expletives to describe Black Lives Matter.

“I’m Black in America so I’ve dealt with these kinds of situations before,” Beckom told NBC San Diego. “So I’m able to stay calm and collected in these kinds of situations because I don’t want to risk my job.”

The customer, who is wearing a mask below her chin, claims in the video she is not required by law to wear a face mask and yells profanities at Beckom. San Diego County, where the incident took place, requires residents to wear face coverings in stores and restaurants except while seated and eating a meal.

N'dea Yancey-Bragg

Fauci references 'The Godfather' as relationship with Trump fractures

Nobody is offering a deal that can't be refused, but the relationship between President Trump and Fauci appears to be disintegrating fast as Election Day approaches. Trump has repeatedly called for states to ease COVID-19 restrictions while Fauci has counseled caution. Trump, in a phone call to campaign staffers, blasted Fauci as a "disaster" who along with other public health "idiots ... have gotten it wrong," NBC News reported, citing a recording of the call. Fauci shook off the president's rant, referencing "The Godfather" and saying his relationship with Trump is "just business."

“I would prefer not to comment on that and just get on with what we are really trying to do," Fauci said. "And what we are trying to do is to protect the health and welfare and safety of the American people predominantly, and ultimately, of the world."

States ready, sort of, for crush of demand when vaccine is ready

State public health departments say they’re ready to leap into action as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is approved but caution that it remains unclear how fast it can be widely distributed. The earliest date a vaccine is expected to arrive is now around Thanksgiving so that gives states a little breathing room. A month ago Nov. 1 had been a primary target date.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says it's like planning an outdoor picnic for 1.3 million of his closest friends (the population of Maine) without knowing how much food he has, who's coming, how he's going to invite them and what they can and can't eat. In Mississippi, state health officials have been working hard to get ready, said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer.

"This is going to be a Herculean effort," he said.

Elizabeth Weise

COVID resources from USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: Nearly 300K more deaths than usual; CA theme parks latest