U.S. plans to provide free coronavirus vaccines, aims for return to 'regular life' in Q3 2021

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The seven-day moving average of daily new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is back on the rise, at least initially, after a steady decline through much of August and early September, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Experts have warned the Labor Day holiday weekend could have spurred heightened transmission of the virus that would only appear in data sets as confirmed cases after a short lag for incubation and reporting. 

Here are some of the biggest developments Wednesday:

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 29.65 million
  • Global deaths: At least 936,905
  • U.S. cases: More than 6.6 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 196,254

Don't turn coronavirus crisis into a 'political football,' WHO official says

A top official at the World Health Organization has called for "consistent messaging" when it comes to advice given to the public on the coronavirus, saying it should not become a "political football."

"It is important that we have consistent messaging from all levels, and it's not for one country or entity, (we need) consistent messaging between science and government," he said, adding that while this was not always easy given our changing understanding of the virus, it was crucial.

"It is important that governments and scientific institutions step back and review the evidence and give the most comprehensive and easy to understand and digest information so that people can take appropriate action," Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, told a press briefing Thursday.

His comments come after President Donald Trump said Wednesday that a coronavirus vaccine could be available for distribution in October, contradicting a previous statement by the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. — Holly Ellyatt

India reports more than 97,800 new cases — a record daily jump

A municipal worker walks past a graffiti of a youth wearing a face mask on May 4, 2020 in Mumbai, India amid a nationwide lockdown to fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
Indranil Mukherjee | AFP | Getty Images

India reported a record daily jump in cases of the coronavirus, adding another 97,894 infections to bring its total to around 5.12 million, Reuters reported citing the country's health ministry data. 

The South Asian country also reported that 1,132 people died from the disease in the last day, with its death toll now standing at 83,198, according to the Reuters report. 

India's cumulative cases is the second-highest globally behind the U.S., while its death toll is the third-largest after the U.S. and Brazil, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed. 

The number of cases in India has continued to climb despite the government imposing a strict nationwide lockdown earlier this year. The Indian economy, Asia's third-largest, slumped by a 23.9% in the April-to-June quarter compared to a year ago as a result of that lockdown. — Yen Nee Lee

Trump contradicts CDC on vaccine timeline, creating confusion

Trump on CDC director's vaccine timeline: 'When he said it, I believe he was confused'
Trump on CDC director's vaccine timeline: 'When he said it, I believe he was confused'

President Donald Trump is contradicting the vaccine timeline that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out during sworn testimony before the U.S. Senate earlier in the day. 

Trump claimed during a press conference this evening that Dr. Robert Redfield was mistaken when he told the Senate it would take six to nine months for a vaccine to become available to the general public. 

The president said the U.S. could start distributing a vaccine in October, contradicting Redfield who said he expects vaccinations to begin in November or December in a much more limited fashion for high priority groups such as health-care workers and the elderly. 

The CDC walked back Redfield's Senate testimony after Trump's public criticism. 

"He was not referring to the time period when COVID-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans," CDC spokesman Paul Fulton Jr. said in an email to CNBC.

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, has previously said that widespread vaccination isn't likely until later in 2021. -- Spencer Kimball

House GOP tries to force vote on reopening PPP

House Republicans are trying to force a vote to restart the Paycheck Protection Program, the loan program designed to keep small businesses afloat during the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Congressional aides told CNBC that Reps. Steve Chabot of Ohio and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington will submit a discharge petition to force a vote on reopening applications for the $138 billion that remains in the PPP fund. 

The GOP petition would need 218 signatures to move the PPP bill to a vote. which means they have to win over 20 Democrats. -- Spencer Kimball

Airlines, labor unions again urge lawmakers for more aid as deadline approaches

With the end of federal aid that prohibits job cuts expiring after Sept. 30, airlines and labor unions are again urging lawmakers again to approve another $25 billion in payroll support for the struggling sector.

U.S. airlines could furlough or lay off more than 30,000 people when the current aid terms expire and another round of relief would protect jobs through the end of March, they said.

President Trump and a group of bipartisan lawmakers have expressed support for additional aid. While they haven't yet reached an agreement on the aid package, a top Trump aid expressed optimism about a deal.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and labor unions that represent most of the carrier's workers wrote to administration officials and lawmakers for more aid, while United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said he was "hopeful" that Congress could come to an agreement. —Leslie Josephs

WHO says it doesn’t recommend Covid-19 passports

The World Health Organization does not recommend countries issue "immunity passports" for the virus because scientists still don't know whether Covid-19 antibodies reduce the risk of reinfection.

Antibodies are generally produced in response to foreign particles or antigens that invade the body and help the body's immune system fight off infections. Some countries have proposed issuing passports that indicate whether someone has had Covid-19. The passport would allow people to travel or return to their jobs assuming they are protected from the virus. 

But the effort may not help, as Covid-19 immunity remains questionable, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of WHO's Pan American Health Organization, told reporters: "We do not know. For that reason, we do not recommend that." –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Federal Reserve keeps interest rates low for years to come as economy wages a comeback

The Federal Reserve kept interest rates near zero, and indicated they'll remain low for years to come, as the U.S. economy wages a comeback from the coronavirus-fueled downturn. 

The central bank took unprecedented steps amid the pandemic to slash interest rates and back Main Street loans, in an effort to spur borrowing and prop up the economy. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters after the announcement that the central bank intends to maintain low rates until the economy fully recovers and the labor market stabilizes. 

Read more on the Fed decision from CNBC's Jeff Cox and on Powell's live comments from CNBC's markets team. —Sara Salinas

Pelosi, Schumer say they're 'encouraged' by Trump's push for bigger coronavirus stimulus

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they were "encouraged" by President Donald Trump's apparent embrace of a more ambitious coronavirus stimulus plan. 

Earlier, Trump told Republican lawmakers to "go for the much higher numbers" in pandemic relief talks with Democrats. The president's administration has failed to come to a consensus with the Democratic leaders over how much to spend in a fifth coronavirus aid package. 

Minutes after the president signaled he wanted reluctant Republicans to embrace more spending, his chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNBC that he was "probably more optimistic about the potential for a deal in the last 72 hours than I have been in the last 72 days." His comment followed the Tuesday release of a roughly $1.5 trillion bipartisan House stimulus plan — which Democratic leaders swiftly rejected. 

Leaders of both parties in Congress have faced pressure from vulnerable members to approve more aid ahead of November's elections. Democrats and the White House have failed to break a stalemate after discussions collapsed last month. —Jacob Pramuk

CDC director says face masks may provide more protection than vaccine

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers that face coverings are "the most powerful public health tool" the nation has against the coronavirus and might even provide better protection against it than a vaccine. 

"We have clear scientific evidence they work and they are our best defense," Redfield told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. "I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine." 

A Covid-19 vaccine, which will likely be available in limited quantities by the end of this year, may only have an immunogenicity of 70%, Redfield said. Immunogenicity is the ability of a vaccine to build an immune response to the virus. 

"If I don't get an immune response, the vaccine's not going to protect me. This face mask will," Redfield told lawmakers. The CDC says face masks that cover the mouth and nose are "particularly important" when people can't maintain a 6-foot distance from one another. — Noah Higgins-Dunn

Trump calls for Republicans to embrace larger stimulus package

Problem Solvers Caucus stimulus plan will move the needle: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows expresses more optimism on stimulus deal

President Donald Trump is calling on Republicans to support a much larger coronavirus stimulus package as negotiations appear to gain some momentum after a weekslong stalemate in Congress. 

Trump told Republican lawmakers in a Twitter post to "go for the much higher numbers," without specifying what figure he has mind. The GOP has supported a narrow stimulus package that Democrats have rejected as too small. 

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNBC that he is "probably more optimistic about the potential for a deal in the last 72 hours than I have been in the last 72 days."

Americans hit hard by the economic toll of the pandemic have gone weeks without emergency financial lifelines like an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits and a federal moratorium on evictions, as Republicans and Democrats struggle to reach a deal on a new stimulus package. —Spencer Kimball

New York Gov. Cuomo says the pandemic will cause PTSD for Americans

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Fighting the coronavirus pandemic has been "like being at war," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, adding that it will leave some with post traumatic stress disorder.

"Covid was a trauma for this country," Cuomo said, speaking at a press conference on a boat off Long Island. He called the pandemic "a profound transformational moment in society."

Cuomo said he will discuss the mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic next week, pointing to the need to understand how it will impact issues like domestic abuse and substance abuse as well as school-age children. —Lauren Feiner

U.S. should have enough vaccine to return to 'regular life' by third quarter of 2021

CDC director: Face masks may provide more protection than coronavirus vaccine
CDC director: Face masks may provide more protection than coronavirus vaccine

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a Senate panel that the U.S. should have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for Americans to return to "regular life" by the third quarter of next year.

He said he expects vaccinations in the U.S. to begin in November or December and it will take about "six to nine months" to get the entire American public vaccinated.

Public health experts have previously said that most Americans likely won't get immunized with a coronavirus vaccine until the middle of next year. Whichever vaccine is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, it will likely be in short supply once it's cleared for public distribution. 

Earlier in the day, the CDC outlined a sweeping plan to make vaccines for Covid-19 available for free to all Americans. In the plan, the CDC said it anticipates a coronavirus vaccine will initially be granted an emergency use authorization before a full formal approval. –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Accusations against CDC scientists false and saddening, Redfield says

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, responded Wednesday to remarks made earlier this week by Trump appointee Michael Caputo, who reportedly said CDC scientists were engaged in "sedition" against President Donald Trump

Caputo, a former Trump campaign official, made the comments in a Facebook Live event broadcast through his personal Facebook page on Sunday, The New York Times first reported. Redfield called Caputo's accusations false and saddening. 

"CDC is made up of thousands of dedicated men and women, highly competent. It is the premier public health agency in the world, dedicated 24/7 to using their skills to protect the American public and the world from the health issues," Redfield said at a hearing hosted Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Appropriations. "And it deeply saddened me that those false accusations were made by a group of really unbelievably professional people that serve this nation." —Will Feuer

Dave & Buster's lays off more than 1,300 employees

Dave & Buster's is laying off more than 1,300 employees across seven states, according to locally filed WARN notices. 

The restaurant and arcade chain joins a host of other companies, including Kohl's, that have participated in another wave of layoffs. Dave & Buster's  layoffs follow its announcement last week of dismal second-quarter results, with same-store sales plunging 87% during that time. The company had furloughed about 1,500 employees in April, but a six-month deadline requires that it tell employees if they're returning or not.

Restaurant Dive first reported the chain's layoffs. A representative for Dave & Buster's did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC. --Amelia Lucas

Gottlieb worries criticism of U.S. health agencies 'erode confidence'

Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb on why the public can trust the vaccine approval process
Former FDA chief Gottlieb on why the public can trust the vaccine approval process

Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC he is concerned criticism of U.S. health agencies only further weaken the American public's trust in them. 

"People who are in public health positions, people who are in political leadership positions, I think need to be very careful about how they communicate about these things because they're very complex and they can't be summed up, frankly, in a soundbite," Gottlieb said on "Squawk Box." "So when you put out a soundbite that could potentially erode confidence, it does erode confidence." 

Gottlieb's remarks came after he was asked about Bill Gates, who recently indicated his confidence in the FDA over a coronavirus vaccine has diminished during the pandemic. Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, which is a developing a vaccine, said he believes both Democrats and Republicans have issued concerning statements about health agencies. "I think there's better ways to air those concerns in a more constructive fashion," he said. 

At the same time, Gottlieb also expressed displeasure with recent actions reported by Politico that involved the Department of Health and Human Services. The news organization said communications officials with HHS pushed to review or change the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on the coronavirus.

"It's frankly absurd to let that happen, to let these things happen on the margins that aren't important," Gottlieb said. "What you end up doing is eroding confidence for the really important things like a vaccine approval decision. Sometimes, people can't distinguish where the government is and isn't going to be interfering because they're not there." - Kevin Stankiewicz 

U.S. prepares to distribute vaccine within 24 hours of FDA authorization

A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida.
Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Senior administration officials said they are planning to transport a Covid-19 vaccine to U.S. distribution sites within 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration grants an emergency authorization or approval.

On a call with reporters, the officials said the U.S. government will use medical supply company McKesson as its main distributor for the vaccine. They cautioned that a vaccine will initially be very limited and will likely go to those most in need, such as health-care workers.

Americans will not be charged for the vaccine or its distributions, they said. Additionally, various plans, supported by the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, are under development with the objective of ensuring no American will be charged any out-of-pocket expenses for the administration of the vaccine either. –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Big 10 conference changes course and aims for a late October start to football

The Big 10 conference said it now plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24, the Associated Press reported. Each team will have an eight-game schedule. The decision comes less than five weeks after the conference decided to move football and other fall sports to the spring due to the pandemic.

The change of heart came after daily rapid-response Covid-19 testing became widely available, the wire service reported. The Big 10 will begin daily testing of its athletes, coaches and staff on Sept. 30. —Terri Cullen

Tracking the spread


Southwest Airlines will keep blocking middle seats through Thanksgiving

A person watches as a Southwest Airlines Co. plane arrives at a gate at the Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.