Coronavirus updates: Fauci concerned about current U.S. trends; universities become the latest hotspots

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The U.S. reported more than 35,200 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, its highest daily tally since Sep. 5, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The holiday weekend likely impacted the data over the past few days and is only now beginning to stabilize. The seven-day average of daily new cases has fallen to 35,219, down more than 12% compared with a week ago. 

Here are today's top headlines:

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 28.27 million
  • Global deaths: At least 911,376
  • U.S. cases: More than 6.41 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 192,448

CDC report finds kids who caught coronavirus at child care centers infected family members

Twelve kids who caught Covid-19 at three childcare centers in Utah carried the virus elsewhere and infected family members, according to a new study published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The new study is evidence that very young kids, including an 8-month-old baby, can still spread the virus, despite not getting severely sick from Covid-19, the researchers said.

The study looked at three outbreaks that occurred in childcare centers in Salt Lake City, between April and July. Using contact tracing data collected at the time of the outbreaks, the researchers used the data to "retrospectively construct transmission chains" to determine precisely how the virus spread.

Among the three outbreaks, the researchers said 12 kids were infected with Covid-19 at the childcare centers, though three of them never developed symptoms and nine developed just mild symptoms. The study says those 12 kids came into contact with 46 people not associated with the childcare facilities and appear to have infected 12, or more than a quarter, of them. Those infected by the kids include six mothers, one of whom was hospitalized, three siblings and three others, the study says. —Will Feuer

'Wonder Woman 1984' won't debut until Christmas Day

"Wonder Woman 1984" has been postponed from Oct. 2 until Christmas Day, as Warner Bros. continues to adapt to the ongoing industry challenges poised by the coronavirus pandemic.

While the company's film "Tenet" has performed well internationally, its U.S. debut was not quite as robust as the film industry had hoped for. With key markets like New York City and Los Angeles still closed and theaters still limited capacity, the studio has opted to push its next blockbuster.

Still, pushing the film to December is not without its own set of risks. Some public health officials anticipate that the number of coronavirus cases could surge again during the winter months. —Sarah Whitten

Fauci disputes Trump, calls Covid data 'disturbing'

The U.S. Covid-19 outbreak remains in a worrisome state, White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday as he disputed President Donald Trump's claim that the U.S. is "rounding the corner."

Trump said Thursday evening at a White House press briefing that "I really do believe we're rounding the corner," adding that new weekly cases have declined by 44 percent since July. MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked Fauci on Friday about the president's comments.

"I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with that because if you look at the thing that you just mentioned, the statistics, Andrea, they're disturbing," he said. "We're plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000." —Will Feuer

Pandemic-related mortgage bailouts drop slightly, but majority remain in forbearance programs

Coronavirus-related mortgage bailouts declined slightly this week, but at a much lower rate than last week's drop, CNBC's Diana Olick reports.

3.7 million borrowers — about 7% of active mortgages — remain in public and private sector mortgage forbearance programs, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data firm.

About 75% of those still in bailout plans have extended their programs by another three months, sinking further into debt. The renewals signal the continued financial strain of the pandemic on homeowners.

The number of mortgages that are at least 90 days past due more than doubled from May to June, its highest level in over five years according to Core Logic. Experts predict these delinquencies could double again by early 2022.

Foreclosures are still historically low, but rose 11% from July to August as moratoria on foreclosures expired. "It will be interesting to see if foreclosure starts continue to increase as these courthouses begin to re-open," said Rick Sharga, executive vice-president at RealtyTrac. —Hannah Miao

51% of workers say their office spaces are safe, survey finds

Courtesy of Edelman

A recent survey of 3,400 workers in seven countries (France, Germany, India, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) by public relations firm Edelman finds that workers are skeptical of returning to work. 

The organization found that just 51% of workers worldwide believe office spaces are safe and only 14% believe their CEOs and senior managers should be responsible for making the decision about when to return to the office. 

Americans were evenly divided on whether corporate offices are safe to return to. —Abigail Hess

Gottlieb: America's 'great failing' on testing meant lockdowns were only choice

Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb defends some of the early lockdown measures to contain coronavirus

Former Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC the U.S. had no choice but to implement widespread coronavirus lockdowns because of its lack of testing early on in the pandemic. 

 "When history looks back on this, the lack of situational awareness at that time is going to be remembered as the great failing," he said on "Squawk Box." 

Had the testing situation been better, Gottlieb said, policymakers could have responded with more target stay-at-home orders in places where outbreaks were occurring. Instead, he said, "back in February and March, we had no idea where the virus was and was not spreading." 

Gottlieb, who led the FDA in the Trump administration from May 2017 to April 2019, said the broad approach likely had consequences later in the pandemic when the virus spread into areas where it had not been prevalent before. 

For example, Gottlieb pointed to the American South, which experienced a surge in cases in late May and into June after many local restrictions had already been eased. Had those restrictions not been in place until there was really an uptick in cases, "maybe we would have had more support for mitigation steps when we needed them," he contended. "But by that time, people were exhausted and weren't going to support more stringent mitigation." —Kevin Stankiewicz

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic-testing start-up Tempus and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings′ and Royal Caribbean's "Healthy Sail Panel." 

As more schools reopen, some parents are pulling their children out

As Covid-19 continues to disrupt education as we know it, more parents are looking for alternatives to traditional schooling, such as learning pods.

Educational companies are popping up across the country to offer such services at almost every price point. In these cases, parents withdraw their children from school and register as home-schoolers. One in 10 parents said their child will be home-schooled this year, a number that has doubled since last year, according to a recent poll, while the percentage of parents sending their children to public school or private school fell.

Of course, Americans under financial constraints have few, if any, of those options. Many families are limited to the reopening plan at the public school in their district, which could still change. As of a recent tally, a little more than half of U.S. elementary and high school students will attend school virtually this fall. — Jessica Dickler

Universities blame Greek life for reopening struggles

Steve Shepard | Getty Images

Colleges and universities across the U.S. have blamed sororities and fraternities for climbing Covid-19 cases, threatening the health of their surrounding communities and the remainder of time spent in the classroom this fall.

At the University of Tennessee, Chancellor Donde Plowman said fraternities have been hosting secret parties, swapping tips on how to avoid the police and how to get a Covid-19 test without reporting it to the university. The University of New Hampshire traced 11 Covid-19 cases to a fraternity party that hosted roughly 100 people, all without masks. The University of Wisconsin at Madison ordered members of nine off-campus sorority and fraternity houses to quarantine for two weeks after roughly 9% of their members tested positive.

"We've reached the point where we need to quickly flatten the curve of infection, or we will lose the opportunity to keep campus open to students this semester," UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said during a video announcement. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Drugmaker AbbVie expects employees to return to office as workers worry about safety

Pharmaceutical company AbbVie is expecting U.S. employees to come back to the office. Some workers worry the company is prioritizing profits over their safety and health, CNBC's Christina Farr reports.

In an email to employees viewed by CNBC, CEO Richard Gonzalez explained that "face-to-face" interaction and "cross-functional collaboration" are critical to AbbVie's success.

Several workers told CNBC they feel pressured to come into the office, even though they're uncomfortable commuting in via public transportation or working with colleagues in person.

AbbVie declined to comment to CNBC on its plans for returning to work.

Attorneys say employers are legally allowed to require staff to work in the office, with some exceptions for those with high-risk conditions and potentially those with children at home. Troy Valdez, a lawyer specializing in labor and employment law, argued that the fear of infection could potentially be considered a medical condition significant enough for workers to be granted work-from-home accommodations. —Hannah Miao

Dow rises 100 points at open as tech attempts to rebound again

U.S. stocks opened higher as technology names once again attempted to bounce back from a recent slump, reports CNBC's Fred Imbert. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 170 points, while the S&P 500 rose 0.7% and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 1%. —Melodie Warner 

CDC report finds dining out has increased Covid-19 risk

Manhattan's West 46th Street has been temporarily converted to an outdoor Restaurant Row during the fourth phase of the coronavirus pandemic reopening in New York.
Roy Rochlin | Getty Images

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that dining out increases the risk of coronavirus infection more than other social activities, NBC News reports.

The CDC analyzed 314 people who reported Covid-19 symptoms and asked about their activities prior to testing for the virus. The study found that those with positive test results were about twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant than those who tested negative. Infected participants who had no known exposure to the virus also were more likely to have visited a bar or coffee shop in the previous two weeks.

Dr. Todd Rice, a co-author of the report, says the findings make sense because it's impossible to wear a mask while eating and drinking. Individuals are also often seated in close proximity to one another at a restaurant.

Notably, the study did not identify whether or not participants ate or drank indoors or outdoors. Experts still say outdoor areas are safer than indoor spaces due to increased ventilation. The CDC maintains that drive-thru, delivery, take-out and curbside pick-up dining have the lowest risk for transmission. —Hannah Miao

Towns with college students among hottest outbreaks, report says

Towns with large college student populations represent 19 of the 25 hottest outbreaks in the U.S., according to a USA Today report analyzing data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The analysis compiled data from counties with at least 50,000, and college towns had to have an enrollment where students were at least 10% of the population. 

The worst outbreaks included James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia; Washington State University in Whitman County, Washington; and Central Texas College in Coryell County, Texas, according to the report. Students aren't attending in-person classes in some of the college towns but are still living in local apartments, the report says. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Hot spots of new U.S. cases


England and Wales' contact tracing app to launch on Sept. 24

In this photo illustration the official NHS Covid-19 "Test and Trace" contact tracing app is seen on a screen in London, England.
Leon Neal | Getty Images

England and Wales will launch a much-anticipated coronavirus contact tracing app on Sept. 24, the U.K. government announced.

The rollout was heavily delayed after a U-turn that saw London drop its existing app for one based on privacy-focused technology from Apple and Google. The government had previously opted for a "centralized" approach that processes data centrally rather than on individual smartphones.

Pubs, restaurants and cinemas have been urged by the government to put up QR code posters that let users of the new app check in. This would allow the National Health Service's so-called Test and Trace team to contact people if a Covid-19 outbreak occurs, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Contact tracing apps alert people who come into close proximity with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, the idea being that the "contacts" of that sufferer would then get tested and self-isolate. They were once viewed as a key part of some countries' plans to lift lockdown restrictions but their effectiveness has since been called into question. —Ryan Browne

London's Heathrow Airport reports 81.5% August drop in passenger traffic

Passengers in the arrivals concourse at Heathrow Terminal 4, London, as the Government's Cobra committee is meeting in Downing Street to discuss the threat to the UK from coronavirus.
Steve Parsons | Getty Images

London's Heathrow Airport said passenger numbers fell 81.5% in August compared with last year, warning that other international airports are recovering from pandemic lows more quickly with more effective testing.

In a statement, Heathrow noted that North American passenger numbers are down by more than 95% compared with last year, adding that Frankfurt airport in Germany has now overtaken Heathrow, "an early warning that Britain's economy will fall behind if we don't protect our global trading network."

"Heathrow urges the Government to introduce testing as an alternative to 14 day quarantine to protect millions of jobs across the UK and to kickstart the economic recovery," the airport said in a statement. "A robust testing regime should form part of a suite of measures as no one action in the fight against Covid-19 can be seen as a silver bullet." —Will Feuer

Israel reportedly heads toward nationwide lockdown again

A customer has his temperature taken at the entrance to a Tel Aviv restaurant in early June 2020 after some Israeli businesses reopened following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Amir Cohen | Reuters

Israel is preparing to enter a second nationwide lockdown in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus after the country's effort to reopen society and the economy led to soaring daily infections, according to local media reports.

Israeli ministers voted earlier this week to impose a nationwide lockdown starting sometime next week ahead of the fall holidays observed across the country, The Times of Israel reported. The Times reported that details of the plan are expected to be voted on this weekend, but the lockdown will likely shutter all nonessential businesses and keep people mostly confined to near their homes for at least two weeks. 

Early in the outbreak, Israel was hailed for successfully containing the virus, but as the country tried to reopen schools and businesses, the number of daily new cases began to rise in June, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On Thursday, the country reported over 4,400 new cases, a record number of new cases in a single day, according to data from Hopkins. —Will Feuer

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