Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for coronavirus; Disney postpones movie release dates

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Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday became the fourth drugmaker backed by the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed program to announce phase three trials on a vaccine candidate. Health experts maintain that a vaccine isn't likely to be proven safe and effective and made ready for distribution before the general election on Nov. 3, despite President Donald Trump's claims that it would be. Most voters across the U.S., and in six swing states, worry that Trump is pushing for a potentially risky and early approval of a vaccine to help boost his reelection chances, according to new CNBC/Change Research polls

Here are some of the biggest developments Wednesday: 

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 31.7 million 
  • Global deaths: At least 975,038
  • U.S. cases: More than 6.94 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 201,930

Survey finds not all of China is recovering from the coronavirus economic hit

China's economic recovery from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is only happening in certain segments of the country, according to an independent survey by the China Beige Book.

More than 3,300 businesses in the country participated in the survey which took place between Aug. 13 and Sept.12. Results show that the Chinese growth story is intact — in the wealthier, coastal regions, according to an early look brief.

"Geographically, labor market conditions were better than Q2 in every region," said Shehzad Qazi, managing director at China Beige Book.

However, the broad recovery masks remaining challenges in sectors such as services, which has employed a growing portion of Chinese over the last several years as Beijing seeks to boost domestic consumption. — Evelyn Cheng

Experts debate whether health-care workers should get a Covid-19 vaccine first

A health worker wearing a protective mask works in a lab during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In theory, health-care workers should be at the top of the list to receive a Covid-19 vaccine once one is approved, given their exposure to the virus. But it might not be that simple, bio-ethicists say. 

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee met Wednesday for the first of a two-day public meeting on vaccine developments and a distribution plan, including which groups should get priority.

"The question is, how at risk are health-care workers, especially in the United States, especially in the era of adequate PPE," Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said at the meeting. "Because at least in our hospital, transmission from patient to doctor with PPE [is] zero."

In other words, if medical staff are protected with personal protective equipment, it's not clear that they should receive the vaccine ahead of other at-risk groups including essential workers at grocery stores and meat processing plants. Whatever happens, the bioethicists agree that the issue is "very, very complex." —Christina Farr

Missouri governor, wife test positive, office says

In this June 1, 2018 file photo, Gov. Mike Parson, right, smiles along side his wife, Teresa, after being sworn in as Missouri's 57th governor in Jefferson City, Mo.
Jeff Roberson | AP

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tested positive for the coronavirus and has canceled all official and campaign events until further notice, his office said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, Missouri's first lady Teresa Parson tested positive after reporting mild symptoms. The governor, however, has reported no symptoms and plans "to conduct and fulfill all roles of business" from the governor's mansion, his office said. 

"As a precautionary measure, the Governor's staff has been tested and is awaiting results. At this time, the Governor feels healthy and is displaying no symptoms, and the First Lady has mild symptoms," the statement said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Google's creating new work models because employees don't want to return to the office full-time in the future

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 22, 2020.
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Google is re-thinking the work model it uses for its employees as a new survey showed most employees don't want to come back in a full-time capacity in the future.

CEO Sundar Pichai said the company, which has long been a Silicon Valley bellwether for company culture, is working on a 'hybrid' model so that employees can have more flexibility for future work options post-pandemic.  

62% of employees said they want to come back to the office at some point, but not every day, according to a recent survey the company released this week. Meanwhile, 10 percent said they don't want to come back to the office at all.

Employees who did want to return, noted reasons including face time with colleagues, socializing, and more collaboration.

Medicare may not cover early Covid vaccine without a legal fix

Congress may need to change the law for Medicare to cover a coronavirus vaccine if one is made available under emergency-use authorization.

While the CARES Act, passed in March, calls for beneficiaries to receive a Covid-19 vaccine without cost-sharing, existing Medicare rules don't allow coverage for one approved via an emergency order, which is what the Trump administration is pursuing to make the vaccine available quickly during the public health crisis. Such usage falls short of the requirements involved in typical new-drug approval process. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not directly respond to questions from CNBC about when and how the issue would be fixed. However, in a statement, the agency said, in part, that it is committed to ensuring access to a vaccine without cost sharing. —Sarah O'Brien

Trump’s vaccine czar says has had ‘enough’ after call for his firing

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who was appointed to run the Trump administration's Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed, told CNBC that he's had enough of accusations that his former work in the pharmaceutical industry creates a conflict of interest.

Slaoui is a former executive at GlaxoSmithKline as well as a former board member of Lonza Group and Moderna. All three companies are involved in the development of Covid-19 vaccines and House Democrats have previously said he had equity in all three until recently. On Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for Slaoui's resignation, accusing the White House of using a "loophole" in federal ethics law to hire him and keep his stock holdings private.

Slaoui said in a phone interview that he still holds shares in GSK, where he worked for nearly 30 years and will use as part of his retirement, but said he's "never owned shares in Lonza." He also said that he has divested all shares in companies that have interests in Covid-19 except for GSK. –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

‘You are not listening,’ Fauci tells Sen. Rand Paul

VIDEO3:0203:02
Dr. Fauci pushes back on Sen. Rand Paul's claim that New York has achieved herd immunity

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed back against Republican Sen. Rand Paul's claim that New York has overcome the coronavirus pandemic because it achieved herd immunity, telling the Republican lawmaker he's "not listening." 

Paul said that despite shuttering businesses and schools earlier this year, New York has reported one of the highest death rates and argued the efforts didn't help curb the spread of Covid-19. The Kentucky senator suggested that New York has achieved enough herd immunity from the coronavirus and is "no longer having the pandemic" and accused Fauci of being a "big fan" of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York's "shutdown."

"You misconstrued that senator, and you've done that repeatedly in the past," Fauci responded at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Walt Disney postpones movie release dates, including much-anticipated 'Black Widow'

Scarlett Johansson stars as Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, in Marvel's "Black Widow."
Disney | Marvel

Walt Disney said it plans to move the release of a number of its coming slate of movies into late 2020 and 2021 as Americans continue to shun indoor movie theaters amid the pandemic.

Walt Disney Studios pushed the release of the much-anticipated Marvel superhero blockbuster "Black Widow" back by six months to May 2021. The studio also postponed for a full year the release for the remake of "West Side Story" to December 2021 from its previous December 2020 date.

Shares of AMC Entertainment and other movie theater stocks were hard hit by the postponement of "Black Widow." Many had been counting on the movie to coax more people to the theaters. Even though theaters reopened in late August, box office sales have been dismal.

Here's a rundown on Walt Disney Studios updated release dates:  

DEATH ON THE NILE, previously dated on 10/23/20 moves to 12/18/20

THE EMPTY MAN, previously dated on 12/4/20 moves to 10/23/20   

BLACK WIDOW, previously dated on 11/6/20 moves to 5/7/21

ETERNALS, previously dated on 2/12/21 moves to 11/5/21

SHANG CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, previously dated on 5/7/21 moves to 7/9/21

UNTITLED DISNEY EVENT FILM, previously dated on 7/9/21 is removed from schedule

DEEP WATER, previously dated on 11/13/20 moves to 8/13/21

UNTITLED 20TH CENTURY FILM, previously dated on 8/13/21 is removed from schedule

WEST SIDE STORY, previously dated on 12/18/20 moves to 12/10/21

THE KING'S MAN, previously dated on 2/26/21 moves to 2/12/21

Terri Cullen

New York Metropolitan Opera cancels 2020-2021 season, will not return until vaccine widely available

From left to right at New York City's Lincoln Center, the David H. Koch Theater, the Metropolitan Opera House, and Avery Fisher Hall. It will be renamed David Geffen Hall later this year.
Siegfried Layda | Getty Images

The New York Metropolitan Opera, the nation's largest performing arts organization, has cancelled its entire season and will not return until September 2021 at the earliest due to ongoing safety concerns about hosting large crowds indoors as the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation. 

The Met Opera said it will not resume until a vaccine is widely distributed, herd immunity is established and masks and social distancing are no longer a medical requirement. It will likely take five or six months after a vaccine is initially introduced to meet these conditions for performances to safely resume, the Met said, citing advice from health officials. 

"We want nothing more than to get back to creating operatic magic as only the Met can, but the safety of our company and the audience we serve must come first," the organization said. 

The Met Opera has tentatively announced a Sept. 27 start date for its 2021-2022 season. Tickets for the current season will be automatically credited to customers Met Opera account within 10 days. A refund can also be requested at any time. —Spencer Kimball

AstraZeneca U.S. trial remains on hold, HHS secretary says

A health worker wearing a protective mask works in a lab during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC that AstraZeneca's late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial in the U.S. remains on hold as federal investigators seek "answers to important questions" over its safety for patients. 

Global clinical trials for AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, called AZD1222, were placed on hold Sept. 6 after one of the participants in the U.K. reported a serious adverse reaction. The trials have since resumed in the U.K. but remain on hold in the U.S. 

AstraZeneca spokeswoman confirmed that the vaccine's trails in the U.S. remain on hold, saying that the company will "work with the FDA to facilitate review of the information and the agency will decide when the U.S. trial can resume." — Noah Higgins-Dunn

U.K. daily cases jump 25% as restrictions go into effect

Late-night drinkers after 10pm in Soho, London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from Thursday pubs and restaurants will be subject to a 10pm curfew to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England.
Yui Mok - PA Images | PA Images | Getty Images

The number of daily reported coronavirus cases in the U.K. has jumped by a quarter in the past day, according to the BBC. The U.K. reported 6,178 cases, up by 1,252 since Tuesday, as the country grapples with a surge this month. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Tuesday that the U.K. had reached a "perilous turning point" in its battle with virus. Johnson reversed the lifting of some lockdown measures in England and told people to work from home in an effort to slow transmission of the virus, a major reversal just weeks after he had urged people to return to work. 

"After six months of restrictions it will be tempting to hope that the threat has faded, and to seek comfort in the belief that if you have avoided the virus so far then you are somehow immune. I have to say that it is that kind of complacency that could be our undoing," Johnson told the House of Commons.

The government has introduced a series of restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, including:

  • Hospitality businesses, such a pubs and restaurants, must provide table service only, and close by 10 p.m. from Thursday.
  • The use of face masks will be extended across a "range of areas."
  • The number of people allowed to attend weddings has been reduced to 15.
  • People who can work from home, should do so.
  • Sports venues will not be able to reopen from Oct. 1.

The U.K. is grappling with the deadliest outbreak in Europe so far, with 41,914 recorded fatalities. The country has recorded more than 406,000 cases of the virus. — Spencer Kimball

Dr. Fauci says it might take time before public gets a vaccine

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to testify during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, D.C., July 31, 2020.
Kevin Dietsch | Pool | Reuters

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, told a Senate panel that it may take time for Food and Drug Administration-approved inoculations for Covid-19 to become available for the general public because of the "rigorous clinical testing required" to develop a safe and effective vaccine.

"But there is growing optimism that one or more of these vaccine candidates will prove safe and effective by late 2020 or early 2021," he said in prepared remarks submitted ahead of a hearing with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

President Donald Trump has insisted that the U.S. could have a safe and effective vaccine by the end of October, and have enough vaccine doses to inoculate every American by April. Fauci has said there is "no guarantee" that scientists will find a vaccine. If they do find one, the U.S. can start thinking about getting back to normal toward "the middle to end of 2021," he has said. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

New cases in Asia show signs of slowing, while cases in U.S. and Europe climb

Fewer swing-state voters say they'll get a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available

Fewer voters now say they will likely get a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available than did over the summer, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. 

Just above four-in-10 voters, or 42%, responded that they will definitely or probably get the inoculation at their earliest chance, the survey found. The share dropped from 58% in July, largely driven by a decrease in willingness among Democrats to get the vaccine. 

At the same time, most voters worry Trump is pushing too quickly to release a vaccine to help his election prospects. Nationally, 61% of respondents said they are concerned the president will push out a vaccination too early, including 52% who said they are "very concerned." 

In the six swing states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, 57% responded that they are worried Trump is moving to get out a vaccine too swiftly. Among that group, 46% said they are "very concerned." 

Trump has repeatedly claimed a vaccine could be ready for widespread distribution by Election Day on Nov. 3, contradicting top health officials in his administration. —Jacob Pramuk

Dow rises more than 100 points as rebound from September sell-off continues

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened higher as the market built on its solid gains from the previous session, reports CNBC's Fred Imbert and Maggie Fitzgerald. 

The 30-stock average traded 140 points higher, or 0.5%. The S&P 500 gained 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite was flat. —Melodie Warner 

JPMorgan traders complain that not all staff told of cases at headquarters

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Some JPMorgan Chase traders are upset the bank didn't tell all workers that an employee on the fifth floor of its Manhattan headquarters had caught Covid-19,  CNBC has learned.

The traders say they only learned about a coronavirus case in their building last week from press reports. When the bank discovered that an employee had caught Covid-19, it quickly told those who had contact with the worker to quarantine for two weeks. It also sent a memo on Sept. 13 to inform workers on that floor about the case.

But JPMorgan didn't tell workers elsewhere in its 47-floor tower at 383 Madison Avenue, and that irked some of the bank's traders, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. —Hugh Son

Johnson & Johnson begins late-stage vaccine trial

VIDEO3:3403:34
Johnson & Johnson starts phase 3 coronavirus vaccine trial

Johnson & Johnson announced it has started a late-stage trial testing its potential Covid-19 vaccine.

The trial is expected to enroll up to 60,000 adult volunteers across 215 locations in the U.S. and other countries. Paul Stoffels, J&J's chief scientific officer, told reporters it will likely take six weeks to two months to reach 60,000 participants, allowing J&J to recruit a diverse cohort. He said the trial will include those with underlying health conditions associated with an increased risk for severe Covid-19.

J&J is now the fourth drugmaker backed by the Trump administration's Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed to enter late-stage testing. The other drugmakers are ModernaPfizer and AstraZeneca. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Germany's virus response left 'collateral damage,' health group CEO says

VIDEO6:1606:16
We've ignored the collateral damage in health care caused by the coronavirus, Fresenius CEO says

Germany's coronavirus response was effective in combatting Covid-19, but left "collateral damage" in its wake, CEO of German health care group Fresenius said, CNBC's Holly Ellyatt reports. 

"Even though a lot has been done in the right way, my criticism is that we have focused too exclusively on the coronavirus and we have ignored all the collateral damage that has been going on and continues to go on," Fresenius CEO Stephan Sturm told CNBC.

The damage was evident in the health care sector, he said, "with all the cancer, heart attack and stroke cases not being treated the way they should be. But also in society, we're seeing lost school years and many many children in precarious situations and suffering from what is going on with us focusing exclusively on Covid," he said. —Sara Salinas

The latest on U.S. spread

Sweden’s high virus death toll could be linked to mild flu season, chief scientist says

A woman wears a face mask as she waits at a bus stop with an information sign asking people to keep social distance due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Stockholm, Sweden.
Stina Stjernkvist | AFP | Getty Images

Sweden's Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has partly blamed the country's high coronavirus death toll on mild flu outbreaks in recent winters.

"When many people die of the flu in the winter, fewer die in heatwaves the following summer. In this case, it was Covid-19 that caused many to die," Anders Tegnell, Sweden's chief epidemiologist told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter earlier this week.

'What has now been seen is that the countries that have had a fairly low mortality for influenza in the last two, three years, such as Sweden, have a very high excess mortality in Covid-19," he said.

Sweden garnered a lot of global attention during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic because it decided against implementing a lockdown while most of Europe shut down public life and most businesses to curb the spread of the virus. Sweden's policy was controversial, and its death toll has been far higher than those of its neighbors. —Holly Ellyatt

U.S. FDA reportedly plans to tighten vaccine authorization standards ahead of election

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce more stringent standards for emergency authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine, Reuters reported, citing a Washington Post story.

The move would reduce the chances that a vaccine might be cleared for use before the Nov. 3 election, the wire service reported. The race to produce a viable vaccine has become politicized as President Donald Trump has repeatedly predicted a vaccine could be ready before the Election Day, contradicting experts in his administration. 

The FDA is issuing the new vaccine guidance to boost public trust, Reuters reported. Health experts and voters have become increasingly concerned that the Trump administration might be interfering in the approval process, according to the wire service. 

Most voters across the U.S., and in six swing states, worry that Trump is pushing for a potentially risky and early approval of a vaccine to help boost his reelection chances, according to new CNBC/Change Research polls. —Terri Cullen

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