R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.


Nearly 10,000 people are gearing up to attend President Donald Trump’s rally at the Des Moines International Airport on Wednesday, defying advice from White House experts on limiting social gatherings there to 25 people.

Meanwhile, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that small, intimate gatherings inside homes this holiday season are an “increasing threat” to the spread of the coronavirus.

And as the need for a vaccine grows more dire – with some White House officials apparently endorsing a “herd immunity approach” widely condemned by public health officials – experts say the recent pauses of vaccine studies and trials are reassuring and mean the processes are working as they should.

Some significant developments:

  • Travelers planning a trip to Hawaii will no longer have to quarantine for 14 days if they tested negative for the coronavirus at least 72 hours before their departure from the mainland, starting Thursday.
  • Elsewhere, travelers from 38 states and territories will now have to isolate upon entering New York, New Jersey and Connecticut after the three neighboring states expanded their quarantine list again.
  • The University of Florida halted all football team activities Tuesday because of an uptick in positive tests for COVID-19.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote on more COVID-19 relief when it returns to Washington Monday.
  • In a six-part series, USA TODAY investigates how racist policies of the past and present have fueled high COVID-19 deaths in communities of color.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 7.8 million cases and 215,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. There have been more than 38 million confirmed cases around the world and 1 million deaths. Five states had a record number of deaths in a week, and 12 states set records for new cases in a week, a USA TODAY analysis found. 

🗺️ 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.

Wisconsin judge blocks governor’s order to limit capacity, public gatherings

A Sawyer County judge has, for now, blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ latest order to curb the spread of coronavirus by limiting public gatherings and the number of customers bars and restaurants may serve at one time. 

The order from Judge John Yackel comes at a time of record hospitalizations, new cases and deaths – and after bars and restaurants have lost a massive amount of revenue as customers stay away while the pandemic rages on in the state.

Democratic state Sen. LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee said if the decision becomes permanent, the state will be exacerbating the already out-of-control spread. 

“Make no mistake, if this dangerous decision stands, Wisconsin will be choosing full bars over full classrooms. What a pathetic set of priorities to teach our children,” she tweeted.

– Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Idaho college students intentionally getting COVID-19 to sell their plasma

Brigham Young University’s Rexburg, Idaho campus is warning against students intentionally contracting COVID-19 in order to sell plasma with antibodies for spare cash.

The alert comes weeks after the National Institutes of Health expanded clinical trials for convalescent plasma, which has received emergency use authorization by the FDA. Nearby centers are offering as much as $200 per visit for convalescent plasma. according to the Salt Lake Tribune

Students found intentionally spreading COVID-19 will be suspended, the school cautions, and possibly expelled from campus.

Report: White House officials want ‘herd immunity’ by infecting young people

As President Donald Trump embarks to a Wednesday campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, a report by the New York Times found that the White House is welcoming a declaration by a group of epidemiologists that calls for young people to re-enter society to stimulate “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity is when a disease stops spreading because the majority of the population has had it. 

The New York Times reported that two senior administration officials cited The Great Barrington Declaration, which calls for schools and universities to reopen, “young low-risk adults” to work normally and restaurants to reopen – a stance that has largely been condemned by most public health officials, who have called it “scientifically and ethically problematic.”

The declaration came out of a meeting from the libertarian-leaning American Institute for Economic Research and its website says it has more than 9,000 signatures, though most names are not public.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said Monday, before the report dropped.

Dozen states set new COVID weekly case records, five set death records

A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Tuesday shows 12 states set records for new cases in a week, while five states had a record number of deaths in a week.

New case records were set in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. A record numbers of deaths were reported in Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin and North Dakota are also reporting new cases at a rate more than 10 times faster than they did in their worst week of the spring, though changes in testing mean it’s not clear how much cases have actually gone up.

– Michael Stucka

CDC head: Small gatherings driving COVID-19 resurgence

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned governors during a call that “small household gatherings” are emerging as a key threat during the COVID-19 pandemic as many states report a record number of cases.

According to audio obtained by CNN, the agency chief emphasized that people should remain wary of breaking social distancing guidelines as the holidays approach.

“Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting,” he said.

‘Small events add up to a lot’: Limited gatherings quietly emerge as source of coronavirus infections

125 cases reported at New Jersey university after ‘super-spreader’ event

Students who were involved in an off-campus party at Monmouth University in New Jersey, which forced hundreds of students into isolation and shut down in-person instruction, are not cooperating with investigators who have yet to find out where the party was held.

Monmouth County health officials who are investigating the event – blamed for spreading the coronavirus to an estimated 125 students so far – said they have reached out to students through contact tracing, but none will disclose where the party occurred or who organized it.

Monmouth University President Patrick Leahy revealed in a Friday letter that the off-campus gathering occurred in recent weeks but had no location or exact date.

– Joe Strupp, Asbury Park Press


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Why experts say vaccine trial pauses at Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson are reassuring

Recent pauses to two large-scale COVID-19 vaccine trials and a treatment study should reassure people – not frighten them – vaccine experts said, though it is a reminder of the messiness of science.

It’s not unusual for late-stage trials of drugs and vaccines to be stopped briefly to examine safety concerns. “This is an indication that the system is working as it was designed to work to protect human subjects in clinical trials,” Lawrence Gostin, a public health and legal expert at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins, told USA TODAY.

There are 49 COVID-19 candidate vaccines in clinical trials around the world, and nine are in large, late-stage studies, said Alan Barrett, director of the Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Only three people out of the roughly 300,000 volunteers in all those trials have been known to have suffered serious side effects.

– Karen Weintraub and Elizabeth Weise

New York, New Jersey quarantine list grows to 38 states, territories

Travelers from 38 states and territories will now have to isolate upon entering New York, New Jersey and Connecticut after the three neighboring states expanded their quarantine list again.

Michigan, Virginia and Ohio were all added Tuesday to the tri-state travel advisory, which directs out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Restrictions are applied to any state that averaged 10 daily positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, as well as states where 10% of tests came back positive over the same time period. 

– Jon Campbell, New York State Team

Experts: COVID-fueled stress eating will add to childhood obesity struggles

Pediatricians and public health experts predict a potentially dramatic increase in childhood obesity this year as months of pandemic eating, closed schools, stalled sports and public space restrictions extend indefinitely.

About one in seven children have met the criteria for childhood obesity since 2016, when the federal National Survey of Children’s Health changed its methodology, a report out Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found.

The trend, already seen in pediatric offices, is especially concerning as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week expanded its definition of those at elevated risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death to include people with a body mass index of  25 to 30. Previously, only those with a BMI 30 and higher were included

– Jayne O’Donnell and Adrianna Rodriguez

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spar with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer over stimulus aid

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer an “apologist for the Republican position” during a tense interview about the current state of a COVID-19 stimulus package.

“As you know, there are Americans who are being evicted from their homes. They can’t pay their rent. Many Americans are waiting in food lines for the first time in their lives,” Blitzer told Pelosi. “Can you look them in the eye, Madam Speaker, and explain why you don’t want to accept the president’s latest stimulus offer?”

Pelosi then pondered if Blitzer would “ask the same question of the Republicans” before insisting the GOP bill doesn’t meet the needs of Americans. Blitzer asked Pelosi why she would not take the $1.8 trillion deal, referencing statements from Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who say she should.

“I don’t know why you’re always an apologist and many of your colleagues are apologists for the Republican position,” Pelosi said during the nearly 14-minute interview.  “I want this very much now because people need help now. But it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail.” 

– Savannah Behrmann

New York’s iconic Roosevelt Hotel is shutting down amid COVID-19

New York’s iconic Roosevelt Hotel is saying goodbye after being a midtown Manhattan mainstay for nearly 100 years. 

The New York City hotel, which has been around since 1924 and has made cameos in movies including “The Irishman” and “Maid in Manhattan” is closing its doors by the end of this year because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The hotel is owned by Pakistan International Airlines and has been home to many historic American moments from serving as the headquarters for Gov. Thomas Dewey’s election campaign in 1984 when he incorrectly announced he’d defeated Harry Truman to being the first place Guy Lombardo and his orchestra performed in 1929.

– Rasha Ali

Facebook to encourage flu shots, ban anti-vaccination ads

Facebook is injecting itself into the public health debate by encouraging flu shots and banning anti-vaccination advertisements. But the social network may not be going far enough, some say, because nonpaid anti-vaccination posts are still allowed.

In a post Tuesday, Facebook said it would begin a flu shot campaign this week with a tool to find where to get a shot. Other features: News feed items and shareable flu reminders.

Facebook will also globally begin rejecting ads discouraging people from getting a vaccine and work with health groups to increase immunization rates, the network said. “Our goal is to help messages about the safety and efficacy of vaccines reach a broad group of people, while prohibiting ads with misinformation that could harm public health efforts,” the authors said.

– Mike Snider

Delta reports $5.4 billion quarterly loss because of COVID-19 pandemic

Delta Air Lines posted a massive $5.4 billion loss for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, results showing how the coronavirus pandemic is wrecking the airline industry.

Delta, the first of the largest airlines to report earnings for the quarter, said it plans to take additional steps cut its losses and conserve its remaining cash, including retiring 400 aircraft by 2025 and delaying taking new planes.

Though its losses are staggering, the company said it still has $21.6 billion in reserve to try to get it through the crisis.

“While our September quarter results demonstrate the magnitude of the pandemic on our business, we have been encouraged as more customers travel and we are seeing a path of progressive improvement in our revenues, financial results and daily cash burn,” said CEO Ed Bastian in a statement. 

– Chris Woodyard

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press


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