National News

Coronavirus live updates: US reports highest daily death toll since mid-September

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide.

Over 41.2 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis -- through clinical means or a lab test -- has varied from country to country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 8.3 million diagnosed cases and at least 222,201 deaths.

California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 886,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 868,000 cases and over 762,000 cases, respectively.

Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

Here's how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:

Oct 22, 9:50 am
Germany's daily case count soars past 11,000 to new record high


Germany confirmed 11,287 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, its highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic.

The latest daily tally soared past the country's previous record of 7,830 new cases set on Saturday.

An additional 30 deaths from COVID-19 were also registered Wednesday. The cumulative totals now stands at 392,049 cases and 9,905 deaths, according to the latest data from the country’s public health institute.

Germany has broken its own record for daily case counts several times this month. While testing has increased since then, the country is among several in Europe that have seen a sharp uptick in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

Oct 22, 8:55 am
Analysis shows hospitalizations rising in 41 US states plus Guam


An ABC News analysis of COVID-19 trends across all 50 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam found there were increases in hospitalizations over the past two weeks in 41 states plus Guam.

The analysis also found increases in the daily positivity rate of COVID-19 tests in 27 states plus Guam and increases in daily COVID-19 death tolls in 17 states.

Meanwhile, case numbers are higher -- a daily average of at least 15 new cases per 100,000 people over the past week -- and staying high in 31 states plus Puerto Rico and Guam, and case numbers are lower -- a daily average of under 15 new cases per 100,000 people over the past week -- but are going up in nine states.

One state -- North Dakota -- hit a record number of new cases in a 24-hour reporting period. Nine other states -- Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and West Virginia -- saw a record number of current hospitalizations in a day.

The United States is rapidly approaching an average of 60,000 new cases a day, with no signs of slowing. At its peak in July, the country reported an average of 66,000 new cases per day.

Over the last five-and-a-half weeks, new cases across the nation have surged by more than 72%. More than one million cases have already been registered in the month of October alone, with over 412,000 reported in just the last seven days.

States across the Midwest such as Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin all continue to consistently report high numbers, while other states such as Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio continue to trend upward.

Additionally, nearly 40,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest in almost two months.

The trends were all analyzed from data collected and published by the COVID Tracking Project over the past two weeks, using the linear regression trend line of the seven-day moving average to examine whether a state's key indicators were increasing, decreasing or remained flat.

Oct 22, 7:48 am
Belgium's foreign minister admitted to ICU for COVID-19


Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes was hospitalized for COVID-19 and admitted to an intensive care unit on Wednesday evening, a spokesperson told ABC News.

The 45-year-old's condition remains stable, the spokesperson said.

Wilmes, who was the caretaker prime minister of Belgium during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, announced via Twitter on Saturday that she had tested positive for COVID-19, saying that the "contamination probably happened within my family circle given all precautions taken outside of my home."

She is the country's first woman foreign minister, as well as the first and only woman prime minister in Belgian history.

Oct 22, 7:22 am
Czech Republic sees another record surge in new cases as restrictions tighten


The Czech Republic confirmed 14,968 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, setting a new record for the second straight day.

The country's cumulative total now stands at 208,915 confirmed cases, about a third of which have been registered in last seven days. More than 124,000 cases were active, including 4,417 patients who remained hospitalized for COVID-19, while over 83,000 have recovered from the disease, according to data from the Czech health ministry.

So far, 1,739 people have died from the disease in the Czech Republic. The country's highest single-day death toll of 97 was recorded on Monday, according to the health ministry data.

The Czech Republic has the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in Europe. Over the past two weeks, the nation of 10.7 million people has reported 1,066.3 cases per 100,000 population, according to data published Thursday by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

New restrictive measures, including mandatory mask-wearing outdoors and in cars, went into effect across the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Further restrictions, such as limits on movement and the closure of many businesses, will be imposed Thursday.

Oct 22, 6:18 am
COVID-19 patients fill up 60% of ICU beds in greater Paris region


COVID-19 patients now take up more than 60% of all intensive care unit beds in hospitals across the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France, a spokesperson for the regional health agency told ABC News.

That figure is up from 59.3% on Tuesday.

There were 669 COVID-19 patients listed in critical condition as of Wednesday night, according to the spokesperson.

France is among several countries in Europe seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections as a second wave of the pandemic hits the region.

So far, France's public health agency has confirmed a total of 957,421 cases, including at least 34,048 deaths. The country has the seventh-highest case count in the world, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Oct 22, 5:44 am
New cases up by double digits across US, HHS memo says


The number of new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the United States increased by double digits in week-over-week comparisons, while deaths and intensive care unit admissions are also on the rise, according to an internal memo from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that was obtained by ABC News on Wednesday night.

The memo, which is circulated among the highest levels of the federal government and is used to determine daily priorities for the agencies working on a COVID-19 response, said 41 U.S. states and territories are in an upward trajectory of new infections, while six jurisdictions are at a plateau and seven others are in a downward trend.

There were 414,004 new cases confirmed during the period of Oct. 14-20, a 15.1% increase from the previous week. There were also 5,168 fatalities from COVID-19 recorded during the same period, a 4.2% increase compared with the week prior, according to the memo.

The national positivity rate for COVID-19 tests dropped slightly from 6% to 5.8% in week-to-week comparisons. Meanwhile, 23% of hospitals nationwide have more than 80% of their ICU beds full. That figure was 17%-18% during the summertime peak, the memo said.

In Illinois, the number of new cases increased 41.1% on Oct. 18 compared to the prior week, over twice the national growth in infections -- 14.8% -- during the same period. Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to climb, with the state reporting a seven-day average of 17.3 hospitalizations per 100,000 people on Oct. 18. The state is also experiencing a shortage of health care professionals, particularly nurses, according to the memo.

Indiana saw a 22.4% increase in new cases and an 8% uptick in new deaths between the weeks ending Oct. 11-18. The state reported a record high of 2,521 new cases on Oct 17, one day after surpassing a daily tally of 2,000 new cases for the first time. The state also reported its highest seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations -- 20.1 per 100,000 people on Oct. 18. During that time, an average of 63% of inpatient beds and 66.4% of ICU beds were full. Indiana has reissued a call for retired health care professionals to volunteer as hospitals across the state face staffing issues, the memo said.

Michigan's Washtenaw County saw a relative increase of 110.9% in new cases between Oct. 11-18. The surge may be driven by the University of Michigan, where the school's quarantine and isolation housing was at 52.8% occupancy as of Oct. 20, according to the memo.

Minnesota reported a record high of 126 new COVID-19 hospitalizations on Oct. 20. The number of new cases increased 24.9% across the state in the week ending Oct. 19, while new deaths climbed by 53.5%, the memo said.

North Dakota reported 587 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week, the highest rate in the country, compared to a national average of 117 per 100,000 people, according to the memo.

Ohio registered 2,234 new cases on Oct. 17, its highest number since the coronavirus pandemic and marking the fourth straight day the state's daily tally was over 2,000. Ohio also reported a record high of 1,145 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Oct. 19. The state's seven-day average of hospitalizations has continued to climb over the past three months, reaching a rate of 13.2 per 100,000 population on Oct. 18, the memo said.

Oct 22, 4:40 am
US reports highest daily death toll since mid-September


An additional 1,124 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered in the United States on Wednesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The latest daily death toll is the highest the country has reported since Sept. 15 but still less than the record 2,666 new fatalities registered on April 17.

There were also 62,735 new cases of COVID-19 identified nationwide Wednesday, up by more than 2,000 from the previous day but down from a peak of 77,255 new cases on July 16.

A total of 8,337,204 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 222,201 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July.

The daily tally of new cases has gradually come down since then but has started to climb again in recent weeks and is now averaging around 60,000 per day.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New wildfire in Colorado prompts mandatory evacuations

ABC NewsBy MAX GOLEMBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A new wildfire broke out northwest of Denver -- called the East Troublesome wildfire -- and it is 19,086 acres and 10% contained with mandatory evacuations in effect.

There is some bad news for Colorado and a huge part of the West on Thursday as more gusty winds are expected, making fire danger critical.

Red Flag Warnings have been issued for six states: California, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.

Gusty winds of up to 30 to 40 mph are expected for Colorado and the Rockies with the highest winds forecast in Northern California, where they can gust to near 50 mph.

A new winter storm is moving from the northern Rockies into the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes, where a winter storm warning has been issued.

Some areas could see up to 8 inches of new October snow but it looks like the Twin Cities will miss the heaviest snow this time around.

Behind this second snowstorm, bitter cold air will be moving into the central U.S., with some areas dipping into the single digits and even below zero.

Some record lows are possible in the Rockies and northern Plains this weekend as well.

Wind chills are also expected to be widespread on Saturday morning.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Epsilon rapidly intensified Wednesday and became the fourth major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season with winds of 115 mph.

Thankfully, there is no major landmass in the path of the hurricane this time, however.

Epsilon is expected to stay to the east of Bermuda Friday with just gusty winds and rain expected on the island as a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the island nation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Deaths, hospitalizations and at least 68 COVID-19 cases after week-long church event

SunnyGraph/iStockBy JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- At least two people are dead, four hospitalized and at least 68 positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed following a weeklong convocation event at a church in North Carolina.

The week of events took place at the United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the numbers include attendees and close contacts of people who attended the services at the church. Authorities and health officials have said they are still trying to track down 94 more close contacts of the people who tested positive.

Health officials in Mecklenburg County have said they have contacted local health departments in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York to warn them of possible cases tied to the events.

“We are aware that there were convocation activities throughout the week,” the church said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “Following initial case investigations, it was determined that the early cases were most likely connected to the larger events held on Saturday and Sunday. As the case count has grown, we are aware of additional cases likely connected to smaller events that occurred during the week. We are currently attempting to trace contacts for all cases who participated in any of the activities. Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend anyone who participated in any of these events to closely monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested as soon as possible.”

One of the people who died was a resident at Madison Saints Paradise Independent Living and at least six of the people who tested positive live at the same assisted living facility in Charlotte, North Carolina

Meanwhile, Dr. Raynard Washington, deputy health director of Mecklenburg County, has warned those who attended the church events to not attend any further gatherings.

“I have advised them to not have any gatherings in the coming weeks because we don’t know how far the spread has gone at this point, and it is not a good idea to reconvene those same groups of people,” said Washington.

One man, who asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News’ affiliate station WSOC-TV in Charlotte that he didn’t feel comfortable going to the event.

“I decided because of health reasons in my family, I wasn’t going there," he said. “It should have never been held. It was just too many people."

Vilma Leake, who has been on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners since 2008 and attends the United House of Prayer for All People, called on a leader of the West Charlotte House of Worship to address the board of commissioners.

“We are very serious about bending the curve and leveling that out. We are very serious about the health of those who worship with us. We just appreciate all concern and are going to continue to take this matter under the strictest concern," the church leader said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Parents of 545 kids separated at border still haven't been found: ACLU

sabther/iStockBy LAUREN LANTRY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The American Civil Liberties Union said in a court filing submitted on Tuesday that they have been unable to contact parents of 545 children who were separated at the border by the Trump administration, leaving the children living with sponsors throughout the United States.

"We haven't found all the families," Lee Gelernt of the ACLU told ABC News' Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas. "We are still searching for approximately 545 families that we haven't reached the parent."

Soon after taking office, President Donald Trump imposed a crackdown on families seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border that ultimately led to thousands of family separations. Children were placed in shelters, often unaware of what was happening to their parents, who were detained and likely deported.

While the government eventually placed the children with sponsors, a federal judge ordered the government to track the whereabouts of the parents -- a difficult task because the government failed to adequately track the families in the first place, according to a government watchdog office.

Gelernt said that close to 5,500 families were separated.

"Each one of these children is its own story," Gelernt said. "And those stories are absolutely heartbreaking."

"One 4-year-old from Honduras had glasses," he continued, telling the story of one family. "The boy's parents had been able to get him a case to protect the glasses." Gelernt said the "glasses case became the most important thing in their life because they knew if the glasses broke, they might not be able to get him another pair."

When the boy was separated from his mother, he had his glasses, but he didn't have the case.

"All day long, all the mother thought about was, 'Can my little boy see?'" Gelernt said.

The ACLU and other groups sued the Trump administration over the practice of separating families. The court filing is a part of the ongoing effort to reunite the families that were separated. But the reunification process has often been unsuccessful due to the government's poor tracking system.

A court-appointed "steering committee" has tried to locate the families of 1,030 children. Court documents estimate that approximately two-thirds of the parents are believed to be in their "respective countries of origin."

But Chad Jennings, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, said DHS, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services have "taken every step to facilitate the reunification of these families where parents wanted such reunification to occur."

"The simple fact is this: after contact has been made with the parents to reunite them with their children, many parents have refused," Jennings said in a statement provided to ABC News. "In the current litigation, for example, out of the parents of 485 children whom Plaintiffs' counsel has been able to contact, they have yet to identify a single family that wants their child reunited with them in their country of origin. The result is that the children remain in the U.S. while the parents remain in their home country."

In line with DHS, White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern said the administration has "done everything we can to bring these families together."

"It's very sad, the administration wants the families to be reunited, but for various reasons the families just have not accepted the children back in many of these cases," Morgenstern said.

In response, Gelernt referred back to the court document that says that the steering committee has "not yet reached the separated parents" of the 545 children.

"We have not even found these 545 parents so neither we nor certainly the administration can know whether they want to be reunited," Gelernt told ABC News.

Ahead of Thursday's presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden released a statement calling the reports "an outrage, a moral failing, and a stain on our national character," adding that the principle that "families belong together" will be at the "core" of his immigration policy if he is elected in November.

Biden has pledged to create a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals living in the United States.

The judge ruling over the case has scheduled a hearing for Thursday.

"The child doesn't know whether they'll ever see their parent again," Gelernt said, adding that the separation of these families is both historic and can never be forgotten.

"This can never be repeated again."

ABC News' Johnny Verhovek, Bonnie McLean, Victoria Moll Ramirez, Anne Flaherty and Luke Barr contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Boston Public Schools suspend all in-person learning amid rising COVID-19 positivity rate

pinkomelet/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(BOSTON) -- All in-person learning for Boston Public School students has been suspended after health officials found that the citywide COVID-19 positivity rate jumped significantly in the past week.

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said in a letter sent on Wednesday to school district employees that all in-person learning activities are to cease starting on Thursday due to an alarming jump in new coronavirus cases citywide.

Cassellius' announcement came just hours after the Boston Public Health Commission released data showing the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate has jumped from 4.1% to 4.5% to 5.7% in the last three weeks.

"We remain committed to providing in-person learning opportunities to our students as soon as it is safe to do so, and will continue to prioritize our students with the highest needs for in-person learning," Cassellius wrote in the letter obtained by Boston ABC affiliate WCVB.

In-person learning will not resume until the citywide COVID-19 positivity rate falls below 5% for two straight weeks, officials said.

Despite the positively rate climbing above 4%, school officials had allowed high-needs students to continue in-person leaning until now.

About 1,300 high-needs students, which include students with learning disabilities and homeless children, had been attending class as part of a hybrid model, and more students were expected to begin in-person learning this week, officials said.

Since the academic year began on Sept. 21, the bulk of Boston's public school students have been attending school remotely.

Last week, a judge rejected a request from the Boston Teachers Union for an injunction to stop teachers from going into school buildings after the city's COVID-19 positivity rate surpassed 4%.

"The BTU supports the decision to switch to all-remote learning in light of the troubling increase in COVID positivity rates announced today," the union said in a statement. "However, we remain very concerned about the impact on the learning experience of high-needs students. We continue to advocate for a safe and sustainable plan that safely provides the additional services that many of our special education, EL and other students continue to need."

The seven-day average for new coronavirus cases across Massachusetts has been steadily rising for nearly seven straight weeks -- jumping by 86% in the last month, officials said.

"We have said all along that we will only provide in-person learning for students if the data and public health guidance supports it, and this new data shows that we are trending in the wrong direction," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference Wednesday.

The problems in Boston and across Massachusetts mirror a trend sweeping the country. New coronavirus cases in the United States saw a major increases over the last week, according to an internal memo by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services obtained by ABC News.

The memo said 387,590 new cases were confirmed during the period of Oct. 12 and Oct. 18, which represented a 12.6% increase from the previous seven-day period.

The national test-positivity rate decreased to 5.7% from 5.9% in week-to-week comparisons. Roughly 21% of hospitals across the country have more than 80% of their intensive care unit beds filled, according to HHS.

The agency said 44 states and territories are in an upward trajectory of new cases, four jurisdictions are at plateau and eight are going down

In the Northeast, Connecticut and New Jersey, which have had relatively few new cases of coronavirus, both announced increases this week in their respective weekly positivity rates. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Tuesday that his state's weekly positivity rate climbed to 3%, the highest it's been since June. New Jersey's positivity rate has climbed to 3.5%.

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut released a joint statement on Tuesday urging "all of our residents to avoid unnecessary or non-essential travel between states at this time."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


University of Arizona students asked to minimize holiday travel to stem COVID spread

wellesenterprises/iStockBy ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(The University of Arizona has reported at least 2,433 COVID-19 infections among students and staff as of Oct. 20, according to university tracking data.

U of A said it is testing on-campus students every week in order to identify and quarantine asymptomatic cases. While the high number of infections is concerning, the university's positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is currently 0.07%, well below the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization.

The school also is planning a testing blitz beginning Nov. 9 in order to reduce the risk that students will spread COVID-19 into other communities if they travel during the holidays, President Robert Robbins explained on Monday during a remote briefing he holds weekly for students.

Students also will be asked to fill out a survey detailing their travel plans during Thanksgiving break and are encouraged to finish the semester remotely if they leave the Tucson area for Thanksgiving.

"Our primary goal is to minimize the impact of student travel on community spread of COVID-19," Robbins said.

There have been more than 233,000 infections and 5,800 deaths in Arizona due to COVID-19, according to the state health department.

According to data from The COVID Tracking Project, new cases, testing positivity rate and COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in Arizona. Experts consider deaths from COVID-19 to be a lagging indictor of the outbreak’s severity, meaning they trail behind indicators like daily infections and hospitalizations.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Trump accuser E. Jean Carroll appears in court in defamation lawsuit

Marilyn Nieves/iStockBy AARON KATERSKY and MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The Department of Justice opted to forego oral arguments at a hearing Wednesday afternoon on whether the United States will be allowed to take over for President Donald Trump as a defendant in E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit, after its lawyer was not able to appear in court due to quarantine restrictions.

The former Elle columnist, who appeared at the New York courthouse in person for the hearing, sued the president last year over his denial of her rape allegation. The president has denied ever meeting her.

The DOJ argued in a court filing last month that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" at the time. Carroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, argued in a subsequent court filing this month that Trump is not covered by the Federal Tort Claims Act, which assumes liability for the wrongful acts of government employees.

Before the hearing started, the federal judge denied a request from the DOJ to delay Wednesday's proceedings. Stephen Terrell, the attorney set to make the government's case, traveled to New York from Virginia, which requires a 14-day quarantine and thus could not access the Manhattan courthouse, the DOJ argued.

In denying the postponement, the judge gave the DOJ three options: find a substitute attorney, make the argument by phone or submit paperwork and forego oral argument. The DOJ decided on the latter and to rely on its written submissions.

Kaplan noted Carroll had “traveled some distance” to attend the hearing and asked the judge for a chance to answer his questions.

In a statement following the hearing, Kaplan called the DOJ's pass on presenting oral arguments "a new low."

"[The DOJ] should at least appear in open court to answer for the outrageous positions that it has taken here," Kaplan said in the statement. "We remain confident that the Court will deny the Justice Department’s motion and we look forward to pursuing Ms. Carroll’s case in federal court.”

Carroll, who served as an advice columnist at Elle magazine for more than 20 years, accused Trump last year of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s. She is suing him for defamation, arguing he damaged her reputation and career by denying her story and claiming she took money from political opponents to fabricate it.

Carroll's lawsuit was on the verge of the evidentiary stage before the Justice Department intervened and moved the case into federal court. A state court had rejected the president's argument that he's immune from Carroll's accusations, clearing the way for him to sit for a deposition.

In a June 2019 interview with The Hill, the president said Carroll was "totally lying" about her accusation, adding, "I'll say it with great respect: No. 1, she's not my type. No. it never happened. It never happened, OK?"

Carroll's lawsuit asserts this statement, as well as two others made during the same time period, were false and defamatory.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Coronavirus live updates: NJ governor self-isolating, being tested

narvikk/iStock

By MORGAN WINSOR and CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide.

Over 40.7 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis -- through clinical means or a lab test -- has varied from country to country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 8.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 221,076 deaths.

California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 883,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 862,000 cases and over 760,000 cases, respectively.

Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

Here's how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:

Oct 21, 6:27 pm
CDC officials host rare briefing in Atlanta: 'I recognize that we are all getting tired'


In a rare press briefing held at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, top federal health officials pleaded with the American public not to give up on wearing masks and social distancing to fight the coronavirus.
 
The message came two days after President Donald Trump said Americans are "tired" of the virus.

"I recognize that we are all getting tired, the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives," said Jay Butler, the agency's deputy director for infectious diseases. Wearing masks "continues to be as important as it's ever been," he added.
 
Butler called out what he said was a "distressing trend" of increasing cases caused by people moving indoors and attending small family gatherings.
 
CDC Director Robert Redfield addressed new agency guidance that urges caution if a person has even brief encounters --15 minutes over a 24-hour period of time -- with a person with COVID-19. This diverges from previous guidance that suggested that two people had to be in contact for at least 15 minutes continuously.
 
"It's based on data that one didn't have four months ago," Redfield said.

Redfield added that the CDC also is looking at whether testing can be used to shorten the length of a person's quarantine following exposure.
 
"CDC is a science-based, data-driven service organization," Redfield said. "We're not an opinion organization. So if we get data that supports a change in our recommendation, then those recommendations will be changed."
 
On the vaccine front, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the administration expects to have enough vaccines for "vulnerable individuals" by the end of the year; for seniors, first responders and health care workers by the end of January; and the broader public by end of March or early April.

Redfield also said he was "optimistic" there will be a limited supply of at least one COVID-19 vaccine available for distribution before the end of the year. "But we're not quite there yet," he said. "That is why it's so important that all of us remain diligent in our efforts to defeat this virus."

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Oct 21, 4:55 pm
Boston University to require students to display 'green badge' in order to enter campus public spaces


Boston University announced that beginning Thursday, it will require all students to display a green "daily attestation badge" before entering community spaces across campus to prove that they are up-to-date on testing requirements.

"To emphasize the importance of these rules, beginning on Thursday, October 22, 2020, we will require a green daily attestation badge in order to enter our dining halls ... and several other public spaces on our campus," Kenneth Elmore, associate provost and dean of students, said in a letter to students. "We hope this will be a reminder to everyone of the importance of daily symptom attestation and testing for keeping our campus safe."

The university had already been using badges that appear on students' mobile devices for faculty and administrators to check students' compliance with the university's COVID-19 guidelines.

The announcement comes after a "very worrisome increase" in the university's daily COVID-19 case numbers. Over the last seven days, the university has reported its largest increase of new cases since students moved into campus in August.

The move also comes as new cases surge in the Northeast and colleges especially have been struggling to control the spread of the virus.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.

Oct 21, 3:47 pm
New CDC study finds multiple, brief exposures within 6 feet can heighten risk of transmission


A new study out Wednesday from the CDC found that multiple brief exposures within 6 feet of someone infected can heighten the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Previously, the CDC had advised that a good rule of thumb is that you can contract the virus if you spend at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19.

In the new study, however, researchers found that a corrections officer working in a Vermont prison appears to have contracted the virus during "multiple brief encounters" with six incarcerated people who had COVID-19 but didn't know it yet. The six people were still awaiting the results of their tests.

The encounters were very brief (one minute or less), but the corrections officer overall had 22 encounters adding up to about 17 nonconsecutive minutes of possible exposure.

This scenario shows that in addition to 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet, it might also be possible to contract the virus if you have multiple, shorter exposures that collectively add up to more than 15 minutes.

ABC News’ Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

Oct 21, 2:27 pm
Head of Operation Warp Speed says vaccine could be widely available by June


Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the head of the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed effort to accelerate a vaccine rollout, told ABC News Wednesday that a vaccine could be widely available by June 2021.

"It's a plan, it's not a certainty," Slaoui told ABC News' Bob Woodruff. "But the plan should make it such that by June everybody could have been immunized in the United States. We will have enough vaccine doses. I really hope most people will take the vaccines."

He added there are two vaccines in Phase 3 trials that are on hold, "and they are imminently going to have the hold lifted," referring to the fact that AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have paused their trials. While this "does have an impact" on speed, Slaoui added, "that's fine, because the number one priority is safety of course."

"If that means the trial has to stop for a month ... that's what we'll do," he said.

Oct 21, 2:13 pm
Spain tops 1 million cases


Spain has become the first nation in the European Union to hit the 1 million mark for coronavirus cases.

The country has reported a total of 1,005,295 cases and 34,366 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Oct 21, 1:15 pm
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy self-isolating after close contact with someone who tested positive

New Jersey’s governor said Wednesday he will self-isolate after he was in close proximity to someone who just tested positive for coronavirus.
 
Murphy walked away from a news conference at Camden County Community College in Blackwood, New Jersey, on Wednesday shortly after learning he was close to someone Saturday who has since tested positive

Murphy tested negative Monday and will get tested again today.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

Oct 21, 12:44 pm
Germany’s health minister tests positive


German Health Minister Jens Spahn has tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently self-isolating, the DPA News Agency reported Wednesday, citing a Health Ministry announcement.

Spahn has developed cold symptoms so far, the ministry said.

The Robert Koch Institute reported that Germany recorded 7,595 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 380,762. The death toll increased by 39, now totaling 9,875.

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.


Oct 21, 12:37 pm
NYC mayor says health care personnel, essential workers and vulnerable will get vaccine priority


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a two-phased vaccination plan for the city during a news conference Wednesday.

In Phase 1, when the vaccine is in limited supply, de Blasio said health care personnel, front-line and essential workers, and vulnerable groups will be prioritized.

Phase 2 comprises of the general public, the mayor said.

"The vaccine will be a crucial part of our rebirth and open the economic bridge to our recovery," de Blasio said.

He added that he does not have an exact date of when the phases would happen, and it remains contingent on an approved vaccine, but promised “it will be sooner rather than later.”

New York City's rollout plan is in line with proposed federal prioritization plans, as the push for first dibs on a vaccine is already underway.

Oct 21, 11:23 am
Boston Public Schools to suspend in-person learning amid rising positivity rates


Boston will suspend all in-person learning for its public school system, effective this Thursday, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced on Wednesday in a letter to employees obtained by ABC News' local affiliate WCVB.

The move came after local health officials said that the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate had increased to 5.7% -- a jump from 4.5% last week, and 4.1% two weeks before.

“We remain committed to providing in-person learning opportunities to our students as soon as it is safe to do so, and will continue to prioritize out students with the highest needs for in-person learning,” Cassellius wrote.

Boston will resume in-person learning for high-need students in public schools once the seven-day positivity rate is below 5% for two consecutive weeks. A phased-in approach will also begin for the districts youngest students when the positivity rate is below 4% for two consecutive weeks.

The seven-day average of new cases in Massachusetts has been on the rise for nearly seven weeks, increasing by 86% just in the last month.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.

Oct 21, 9:32 am
Russia reports record high of 317 deaths in a day


Russia registered a record 317 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to the country's coronavirus response headquarters.

The previous record of 286 fatalities from COVID-19 in a 24-hour reporting period was set just last week.

An additional 15,700 new cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed nationwide in the past 24 hours, down from a peak of 16,319 the previous day.

Nearly 28% of the new cases -- 4,389 -- and almost 20% of the deaths -- 63 -- were reported in the capital, Moscow.

The cumulative totals now stand at 1,447,335 cases and 24,952 fatalities, according to Russia's coronavirus response headquarters.

Although Russia has been breaking its own records for daily case counts and deaths almost every day since Oct. 9, authorities there are resisting shutting down businesses again. Few measures have been imposed in Moscow, the epicenter of the country's COVID-19 outbreak and recent surge.

The Eastern European country of 145 million people has the fourth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India and Brazil, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Oct 21, 8:53 am
US surgeon general says herd immunity could 'lead to many complications/deaths'


U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday that a "herd immunity" approach to combating COVID-19 could "lead to many complications/deaths."

Adams posted the comment on his official Twitter account, along with a link to a recent article from The Journal of the American Medical Association entitled "What is Herd Immunity?"

"The summary: Large numbers of people would need to be infected to achieve herd immunity without a vaccine; this could overwhelm health care systems and lead to many complications/deaths," Adams tweeted. "So far, there is no example of a large-scale successful intentional infection-based herd immunity strategy."

Instead, Adams urged people to "wear masks," "wash hands" and "watch distances."

The surgeon general's comments come after the White House embraced a controversial declaration by a group of scientists calling for an approach that relies on "herd immunity."

The so-called Great Barrington Declaration, which claims on its website to have been signed by more than 9,000 medical and public health scientists around the globe, opposes lockdowns and argues that authorities should allow the novel coronavirus to spread among young, healthy individuals while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, has called the concept "ridiculous" and "total nonsense."

Oct 21, 7:11 am
Czech Republic reports nearly 12,000 new cases in record high


The Czech Republic confirmed 11,984 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a new record for the Central European country.

The Czech Republic has shattered its own record already several times this month. The country's previous record of 11,105 new cases was set last Friday.

The cumulative total now stands at 193,946 cases, about one third of which were registered in the past seven days, according to data from the Czech health ministry.

More than 113,000 cases were active, including 4,064 patients who remained hospitalized for COVID-19, while over 79,000 have recovered from the disease, according to the health ministry data.

So far, 1,619 people have died from the disease in the Czech Republic. The country's highest single-day death toll of 97 was recorded on Monday, according to the health ministry data.

The Czech Republic has the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in Europe. Over the past two weeks, the country of 10.7 million people has reported 975.8 cases per 100,000 population, according to data published Wednesday by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

New restrictive measures, including mandatory mask-wearing outdoors and in cars, are slated to take force across the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The government was expected to meet early Wednesday to discuss additional measures.

Oct 21, 5:32 am
Analysis shows rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in 42 US states


An ABC News analysis of COVID-19 trends across all 50 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico found there were increases in hospitalizations over the past two weeks in 42 states.

The analysis also found increases in newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 40 states plus Puerto Rico, increases in the daily positivity rate of COVID-19 tests in 27 states and increases in daily COVID-19 death tolls in 17 states.

Since Oct. 1, there have been 972,902 cases reported nationwide. More than 400,000 of those cases have been reported in just the last seven days. The country is on track this week to exceed one million cases for the month of October, making it the fourth month on record to surpass the grim milestone.

Cases are undoubtably surging nationally. The United States is currently averaging 57,000 new cases a day -- the highest it has been in 11 weeks. That average has increased by 67% since Sept. 12.

Two states -- Kansas and Tennessee -- hit a record number of new cases reported in a 24-hour reporting period, while five states -- Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio and Wyoming -- saw a record number of current hospitalizations in a day.

The trends were all analyzed from data collected and published by the COVID Tracking Project over the past two weeks, using the linear regression trend line of the seven-day moving average to examine whether a state's key indicators were increasing, decreasing or remained flat.

Oct 21, 5:13 am
US reports over 60,000 new cases, nearly 1,000 deaths


There were 60,315 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The latest daily tally is up by almost 2,000 from the previous day but remains under the country’s record set on July 16, when there were 77,255 new cases in a 24-hour-reporting period.

An additional 993 coronavirus-related fatalities were also recorded Tuesday, more than double the previous day's death toll but still down from a peak of 2,666 new fatalities reported on April 17.

A total of 8,274,797 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 220,133 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July. The daily tally of new cases has gradually come down since then but has started to climb again in recent weeks.

The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded in the United States increased by more than 12% in week-over-week comparisons, according to an internal memo from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that was obtained by ABC News on Tuesday night.

Oct 21, 4:29 am
COVID-19 cases among US children surge 13%, new report says


The number of children diagnosed with COVID-19 across the United States increased by 13% in the first two weeks of October, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

There were 84,319 pediatric cases of COVID-19 reported nationwide from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15. The overall rate of infection is 986 cases per 100,000 children in the population, according to the weekly report, which was published Tuesday.

"While children represented only 10.9% of all cases in states reporting cases by age, over 741,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic," the report said.

Even so, the report noted that severe illness and deaths due to COVID-19 appear to be rare among children at this time. As of Oct. 15, children accounted for 1%-3.6% of total reported hospitalizations and 0%-0.27% of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Fourteen states reported zero pediatric deaths from the disease, according to the report.

"However, states should continue to provide detailed reports on COVID-19 cases, testing, hospitalizations, and mortality by age and race/ethnicity so that the effects of COVID-19 on children’s health can be documented and monitored," the report said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Defense seeks to dismiss 25 murder charges against doctor accused of killing patients

BlakeDavidTaylor/iStockBy JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Defense attorneys for a former Ohio doctor charged with 25 counts of murder for allegedly ordering fatal doses of pain medication for patients are looking to have the charges dismissed.

William Husel, a former critical-care physician for Mount Carmel Health in Columbus, was arrested in June and pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from 2015 to 2018. The criminal investigation began after detectives received information that "numerous patients" had died while being treated by Husel while he was at Mount Carmel Health in December 2018.

The motion Husel's attorneys filed in a Franklin County court Wednesday stem from what they say is new evidence, in which a patient who died but was not included in the murder charges, lived for 10 days after she was prescribed the fentanyl and after the pain medication was out of her system.

The patient, named "T.Y." in the court documents, was one of 16 patients who died after receiving 500 milligrams or more of fentanyl ordered by Husel but was not included in the murder charges.

On Nov. 23, 2014, Husel treated T.Y. in the intensive care unit while working the night shift, according to the court documents. Before Husel's shift started, the patient's family had discussed with the dayshift physician that they wanted to stop further care and proceeded with removing her endotracheal tube. The daytime physician assured them that T.Y. would be given medication to make her more comfortable, and Husel ordered 500 milligrams of fentanyl for her prior to the procedure, the motion states.

The medications were administered 8:10 p.m., and T.Y. was then extubated, according to court documents. Five minutes later, she began "lifting self out of bed, gasping for air," the motion states, citing her medical records. Husel then administered an additional 500 milligrams, but her pain score remained at an "eight" at 8:25 p.m., so Husel ordered an additional 1,000 milligrams to be administered, according to the court documents.

At 8:30 p.m., T.Y.'s breathing was "labored, shallow, and abnormally rapid," the motion states, and at 8:47 p.m. her pain score remained at an eight, so Husel ordered an additional 500 milligrams.

By 9:02 p.m., T.Y.'s pain score was at a zero, the motion states. She received a total of 2,500 milligrams of fentanyl within 37 minutes throughout the night, according to the court documents.

T.Y. was transferred out of the ICU and into the palliative care unit the next day. She stopped breathing more than 10 days after the initial 2,500 milligrams of fentanyl were administered, on Dec. 3, 2014, the motion states.

The court documents do not detail T.Y.'s cause of death but state that any trace of fentanyl "had long been eliminated" by the time of her death.

T.Y.'s medical record could assist in demonstrating that "a patient can receive these medications and and subsequently live for days" and therefore provide an argument against the allegation that the medications prescribed by Husel "hastened death," according to the court documents.

According to the motion, the charges against Husel should be dismissed due to misconduct by Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien "on the grounds that the prosecution presented evidence to the grand jury which substantially influenced their deliberations." The defense also claims that O'Brien provided "false information" to a grand jury when stating that 500 milligrams of fentanyl is a lethal dose. The grand jury indictment against Husel states that the "lethal" doses were prescribed by him with an "intent to kill."

"Prosecutor O'Brien chose not to seek an Indictment against Dr. Husel for the death of T.Y. because he knew that presenting the evidence to the grand jury would reveal the truth -- that 500 milligrams of fentanyl is not a 'lethal dose,' and that administering such a dose does not indicate an intent to cause or hasten death," the motion states.

O'Brien did not immediately response to ABC News' request for comment.

In an interview with ABC Columbus affiliate WSYX after the hearing on Wednesday, O'Brien said the defense should focus on the patient cases that are included in the indictment, adding that no experts have stated that the levels of fentanyl prescribed by Husel were appropriate.

"What we're seeing here today, frankly, is a celebrity lawyer from Miami who practices law this way," O'Brien said. "We handle our cases professionally, ethically and legally in this county. I don't know what they do in Miami, but what I saw in court today is a poor reflection."

When asked why the motion was just filed this week, defense attorney Jose Baez said he had just received the new information on T.Y.'s case.

"We're interested in the public knowing the truth," he told reporters after Husel's court appearance. "We're interested in the truth coming out. We're interested in all information coming out and not hidden all of a sudden by third parties or even by the state of Ohio."

ABC News' Enjoli Francis, Cheryl Gendron, Rachel Katz, and Kathleen Hendry contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Doctor arrested in sex-for-drugs sting

Dr. William Spencer Suffolk County, New York, doctor and legislator has been arrested for allegedly attempting to exchange oxycodone for sex.- (WABC, FILE)By AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A Long Island, New York, doctor who is also a legislator and minister, was arrested while allegedly attempting to exchange oxycodone for sex, according to law enforcement officials.

Dr. William "Doc" Spencer, 53, was taken into custody in a parking lot in Elwood. He appeared for his arraignment on Wednesday at the Central Islip courthouse via video conference, his hands cuffed behind his back and leaning forward while wearing a blue short-sleeved prison shirt and mask.

He was released without bail on his own recognizance. In agreement for release, Spencer was ordered to surrender his passport, his pistol license -- he has a pistol permit but not a licence to carry, according to authorities -- as well as any other firearms he may have by Thursday.

Spencer is being charged with criminal possession and sale in the third degree, according to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward.

He is due back in court on Feb. 26. If convicted of the top count, Spencer faces a maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.

According to Ward, Spencer made "oral admissions" to officers that there is also an ongoing investigation into his past conduct which will involve additional search warrants and evidence recovered from his cellphone.

"Dr. Spencer has dedicated his life to his community, family and his patients," said Spencer's attorney.

"The message here is that the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office will continue to work in partnership with all of the law enforcement agencies operating here on Long Island, including the DEA and members of the Long Island Heroin Task Force, to hold criminals accountable no matter who they are or what their walk of life is," Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said, in a statement. "This investigation is very much ongoing, and justice will be served in this case."

Spencer, of Centerport, was allegedly under the presumption he would be meeting a prostitute in a parking lot to trade the oxycodone pills for sex -- but it was a sting operation.

He was in an official Suffolk County vehicle at the time of the arrest.

Spencer is a well-known doctor who has been a legislator in Suffolk County's 18th District since 2011 and serves on an opioid task force. A pediatric surgeon, he was reported as the first doctor to serve on the Suffolk County Legislature in its 50-year history, according to Smithtown Matters. He is the chief of otolaryngology at Huntington Hospital and an associate clinical professor at Stony Brook University Hospital, according to his biography on the Suffolk County Legislature's website.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


'Protect Breonna, protect myself': Breonna Taylor's boyfriend recounts night she was killed

Courtesy of Breonna Taylor's FamilyBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- When Breonna Taylor's door flew open in the middle of the night, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said what was going through his head was, "Protect Breonna, protect myself."

In an interview with ABC News and Louisville's Courier Journal Wednesday, Walker recounted the night he witnessed 26-year-old Taylor get shot dead by police in her Louisville home.

Taylor, a medical worker, was killed in her home shortly after midnight on March 12 by Louisville police officers, touching off protests across the country.

She had met Walker about nine years before through Twitter. They were friends for years until a romance developed in 2016, Walker said, describing Taylor as "loving, giving" and "uplifting."

Though they would break up and get back together, Walker said they had plans to move in together and possibly have a baby.

In the early hours of March 13, Taylor was asleep and Walker was dozing off when he said "there was a loud bang at the door."

"Breonna screamed out, 'Who is it?'" Walker said, and "nobody said anything, so at this time we're getting up to put on clothes to see who it is."

There were more loud bangs but still no answers from whoever was at the door, Walker said.

"I grab my gun and we proceed to answer the door. When we get right in the doorway of the bedroom, the door flies open," Walker said.

"Protect Breonna, protect myself. That's what was going through my head," Walker explained.

"I figure it's intruders ... I couldn't see anybody -- it was pitch black."

At the door were Louisville police officers trying to execute a search warrant as part of an investigation into a suspected drug operation allegedly linked to Taylor's ex-boyfriend.

Walker said he fired a single shot "at the ground" with his licensed gun.

One officer was struck in the leg.

"After I fired that shot it was silence briefly," Walker said, followed by a "hail of gunfire."

Police opened fire and Taylor was shot multiple times.

"I grab Breonna and I drop to the ground," Walker said. "She did scream ... that's the last sounds that she made."

"After the gunfire it was quiet for a long time," Walker said. "It was just me screaming for help."

Walker said he called his mother, then 911 and then Taylor's mother. When Walker went outside, he said he expected the authorities were there to help him, so he was confused to see a massive police presence and officers' guns pointed at him.

"I was terrified," he said.

No drugs were found in Taylor's apartment.

Walker was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer but charges were later dropped.

Although Walker claimed his gun was pointed at the ground when he fired the single shot, Sgt. Jon Mattingly, the officer who was shot while executing the warrant, said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with ABC News and Louisville's Courier Journal that Walker "wasn’t shooting at the ground."

"He was in a stretched out, two hands -- it’s called a Weaver stance, where your legs are apart. He’s pushed out with two hands, looking straight at me," Mattingly said. "I saw his gun. Our postures were the same looking at each other when he fired that shot."

Walker and his lawyers contend Mattingly was shot by friendly fire. But Kentucky State Attorney General Daniel Cameron said all of the officers who fired shots were armed with .40-caliber weapons and Mattingly was shot with a 9mm gun, which matched the one Walker fired.

Cameron said that because Walker fired the first shot, the officers were justified in their use of deadly force to protect themselves.

Mattingly also said that he and the other six officers knocked on Taylor's door six different times and repeatedly yelled, "Police, search warrant!" before they rammed the door open. However Walker and 11 other witnesses at Taylor's apartment complex claimed they didn’t hear police announce themselves before they stormed in.

Following Taylor's death, one officer, Brett Hankison, was fired and the others were placed on administrative duty. But initially no charges were brought against the officers, igniting months of protests in Louisville.

Six months after Taylor's death, Cameron convened a grand jury to investigate possible charges against the officers. Last month a grand jury indicted Hankison on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for firing into the apartment directly behind Taylor's, where three people were inside. Hankison pleaded not guilty.

However Cameron told Louisville's WDRB last month that his office didn't give the grand jury the option to consider murder charges -- so no officers were indicted on charges related to Taylor's death, leading to further protests.

Attorneys for Hankison and Walker as well as Taylor's family advocated for the release of the grand jury transcript and evidence connected to the case. Walker's civil lawyers filed a successful motion this month to have the evidence collected by Louisville police department's Professional Integrity Unit released to the public.

On Tuesday a judge ruled in favor of an anonymous grand juror in the case, allowing the juror to come forward and speak publicly about the court proceedings. Cameron had argued against grand jurors speaking out, saying it could set a dangerous precedent for courtroom privacy. But after the judge's Tuesday decision, Cameron said he will not appeal.

Federal officials are also investigating possible civil rights violations.

Walker said that if police had identified themselves and then searched the home, Taylor's death would have been avoided.

"Whoever shot her is responsible for her death. Whoever came with that person ... they're responsible," Walker said. "Whoever allowed them to come there ... they're responsible."

"They gotta live with that and feel that every day."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


3 people, including child, critically hurt in New York state school bus crash

wsfurlan/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(NEW WINDSOR, N.Y.) -- A yellow school bus collided with a work truck Wednesday morning on a two-lane New York state road, critically injuring three people, including a child, officials said.

The crash occurred in New Windsor, Orange County, about 66 miles northeast of New York City, and authorities said at least three of the crash victims were taken to a hospital in critical condition and several others were treated for less serious injuries, according to police.

The bus involved in the crash was from the Little Britain Elementary School in New Windsor, according to the Washingtonville Central School District.

A preliminary investigation indicates a westbound truck, owned by a local tree-trimming service, crossed over the double yellow line and hit the eastbound school bus head on, the New Windsor Police Department said in a statement.

The accident is still under investigation.

The crash happened close to 8:30 a.m. on a two-lane section of Route 207, less than five miles from the Little Britain school, police said. Police said the bus slammed into a truck owned by a local tree trimming service.

Police said a third vehicle was also involved in the crash.

The front end of the school bus was badly damaged and its front windshield shattered, according to a photo from wreck.

The photo also appeared to show a trailer from a tree service company leaning against the rear of the bus and a damaged wood-chipping machine lying at the side of the road next to the bus.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

New Windsor police said eight children were on the bus and a girl sitting behind the driver had to be extricated from the bus and was among those critically injured. All of the children were taken to St. Luke's Hospital in nearby Newburgh to be examined, police said, following school protocol and standards practices.

The bus driver and the driver of the tree trimming truck, whose names were not immediately released, were also hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

Local emergency services and district personnel reported quickly to the scene and all parents have been notified, according to officials.

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said he rushed to the scene.

"Horrific scene, young kids," Neuhaus told ABC New York City station WABC. "School bus accidents are the worst. We're hopeful that everybody will recover. But it is a horrible, horrible accident, and I've seen many in my life. This is probably the worst I've seen."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Colleges in Washington state must now provide COVID-19 quarantine facilities as cases spike, governor says

Samara Heisz/iStockBy JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has implemented a number of new protocols for universities as multiple campuses have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases.

The requirements include a limit of two people allowed in sleeping rooms, a limit of five visitors in one place -- all of whom must be masked and socially distanced -- as well as the provision of quarantine facilities at Greek houses, off-campus congregate houses and dorms.

More cases have been confirmed on campuses including the University of Washington and Washington State University, ABC Seattle station KOMO reported, including 601 cases at UW alone as of Monday.

"We've just got to get these spikes under control," Inslee told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

Washington state experienced the first wave of COVID-19 in the U.S. after a patient there tested positive in late January.

To date, there have been more than 99,000 confirmed cases in the state and 2,300 deaths.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Officer in Breonna Taylor shooting says he would have done things differently

Breonna Taylor FamilyBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- In the seven months since he and his police colleagues executed a warrant at Breonna Taylor's apartment that resulted in her being killed in a hail of 32 bullets, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly said on Tuesday that he's pondered what they could have done differently.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News and Louisville's Courier Journal, Mattingly, a 20-year veteran of the Louisville Metro Police Department, said one of the biggest things he would have done differently was to storm Taylor's residence without giving her time to answer what he claims were multiple knocks on her door accompanied by repeated announcements of "Police, search warrant!"

"We expected that Breonna was going to be there by herself. That's why we gave her so much time. And in my opinion that was a mistake," Mattingly, 47, told ABC News' Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan in a wide-ranging two-hour interview about the shooting that left him wounded, prompted nationwide protests, and led to demands that he and the other officers face homicide charges.

"What would I have done differently, the answer to that is simple now that I've been thinking about it," Mattingly said. "Number one, we would have either served the no-knock warrant or we would have done the normal thing we do, which is five to 10 seconds. To not give people time to formulate a plan, not give people time to get their senses so they have an idea of what they're doing. Because if that had happened ... Breonna Taylor would be alive, 100 percent."

Speaking publicly for the first time about the fatal encounter in which Taylor was shot six times, Mattingly expressed empathy for Taylor's family, saying the incident is something all good police officers dread.

"I feel for her. I hurt for her mother and for her sisters," said Mattingly, a father of four who recently became a grandfather. "It's not just a passing 'Oh, this is part of the job, we did it and move on.' It's not like that. I mean Breonna Taylor is now attached to me for the rest of my life. And that's not again, 'Woe is me.' That's me feeling for them. That's me having a heart and a soul, going as a parent, 'How do you move on?' I don't know. I don't want to experience it."

Mattingly, who was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky as the son of a church pastor, said that on March 13 he worked a full shift before volunteering to assist other narcotics officers who had been investigating Taylor's ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, on allegations of drug trafficking.

He said that at a briefing attended by more than 50 officers, including police department command staff, Mattingly and the six other members of the team were told that Glover would be at another location on the list of warrants being simultaneously served across the city.

"They wanted to do the right thing and they said, 'Give her time to come to the door,'" Mattingly said.

He said that prior to arriving at Taylor's apartment, he and the others had no idea that Taylor's new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, would be inside the apartment and armed with a licensed handgun.

Walker and 11 other witnesses at Taylor's apartment complex claimed they didn’t hear police announce themselves before they stormed through the door. Walker said he thought the police were intruders, causing him to fire a single shot that ignited a barrage of bullets.

Kentucky State Attorney General Daniel Cameron said that because Walker fired the first shot, Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were justified in their use of deadly force to protect themselves, which precluded prosecutors from pursuing homicide charges in Taylor's death.

Only one officer involved, Brett Hankison, who has since been fired from the police department, was indicted last month by a grand jury on wanton endangerment charges, for allegedly firing shots that penetrated a wall and entered a neighboring apartment occupied by a family. Hankison has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Describing how the incident began, Mattingly said the team of seven officers arrived at Taylor's apartment after midnight and approached the front door in a line, "like a train."

He said that as the team reached the porch, a neighbor came out of his apartment and started arguing with them, engaging in an expletive-laced verbal dispute with Hankison.

"I remember him saying at one point, 'She's a good girl, leave her alone' or something to that effect," Mattingly recalled. "Finally, I looked at Brett and said, 'Leave that alone and pay attention to what we're doing.'"

Mattingly remembers initially banging on Taylor's door, but not announcing immediately that it was the police.

"So we get up, I remember banging on the door, it's open hand, hard smack, bam, bam, bam, bam. First time, didn't announce. Just hoping she would come to the door," Mattingly said.

He said the second time they banged on the door, they repeatedly yelled, "Police, search warrant!"

Mattingly said they knocked on Taylor's door six different times. He said the last time they knocked, Detective Mike Nobles, who was standing on the opposite side of the door across from him, thought he heard someone coming to the door.

"So we stop, we listen. Nobody says anything. We yell again, 'Police, search warrant. Open the door if you're here,'" he said.

Mattingly said that when no one answered, Nobles rammed the door open. Mattingly said he was the first inside and while trying to clear a hallway he saw two figures side-by-side at the end of the hall.

He said the only light in the apartment was coming from a TV in a back bedroom and the lights on the guns of the officers behind him.

"As soon as I turned the corner, my eyes went straight to the barrel of this gun. I could see the tip of it. And my eyes just focused in on it as soon as I saw it," Mattingly said.

Saying that "everything happened in milliseconds," Mattingly said he heard a shot and immediately felt a burning sensation in his leg.

"As soon as I felt the smack on my leg and the heat, I -- boom, boom -- returned four return shots, four shots," he said, adding that he fired two additional rounds as the shooter rushed into a bedroom.

Mattingly said he fell to the ground and scooted to an area to seek cover. He said Cosgrove opened fire two to three seconds after he stopped shooting.

A ballistics analysis determined that Cosgrove fired the shot that killed Taylor, officials said.

"I reached down and felt my leg. I could feel a handful of blood and the heat -- I thought my femoral artery. I said I can't stand up because I'm going to pump the blood out if I keep pushing forward," Mattingly recalled. "I remember I scooted back and sat on my bottom and I scooted my gun out for some reason. I let go of it. Then I thought real quick, 'What am I doing? I can't let go of my gun.' I grabbed my gun and I pulled it back in and I yelled, I said, 'Man, I got shot in my femoral.'"

He said bullets were now whizzing over his head and he feared being shot again.

He said he mustered the strength to stand and hobbled out of the apartment, falling to the ground when his wounded leg gave out.

Mattingly said he was between two cars in the parking lot and could still hear gunfire.

"The shots from beginning to end, from my shot to Brett's last shot was maybe 10, 12 seconds," Mattingly said.

He said he didn't learn that Taylor had been killed until the next day when he got out of surgery.

"My first question was, 'Did she have a gun? Was she a shooter?' Because I didn't know what took place after I moved out," Mattingly said.

Asked by Strahan about how he felt when he heard Taylor was dead, Mattingly said, "It was tragic. It's horrible."

"Again, that's a situation that you dread, that you pray never happens," he said.

In the aftermath of Taylor's shooting, protests raged in Louisville for more than 100 days as Taylor's family demanded justice. They filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city that was eventually settled for $12 million. As part of the settlement, the city admitted no wrongdoing in the incident, but it agreed to institute major police reforms.

Mattingly said the anger and violence that erupted during the protests could have been avoided had officials immediately released accurate information about what transpired at Taylor's home and had attorneys representing the family and Walker not fueled the fury with what he described as misinformation.

Mattingly, who is white, also said Taylor's death had nothing to do with her race.

"This is not relatable to George Floyd. This is nothing like that," Mattingly said of Taylor, who was Black. "It's not Ahmaud Arbery. It's nothing like it. These are two totally different types of incidences."

The veteran officer said Taylor's death was simply a matter of circumstances.

"It's not a race thing like people want to try to make it out to be. It's not. This is a point where we were doing our job, we gave too much time when we go in, I get shot, we returned fire," Mattingly said. "This is not us going, hunting somebody down. This is not kneeling on a neck. It's nothing like that."

Walker was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but those charges were later dropped. Walker claimed in a lawsuit that Mattingly might have been shot by friendly fire from Hankison's gun.

Cameron, however, said that all of the officers who fired shots that night were armed with .40-caliber weapons. Mattingly was shot with a 9mm gun, which matched the one Walker fired.

When Strahan countered that Walker claimed he fired only a warning shot and pointed his gun at the ground, Mattingly scoffed.

"Let's get one thing straight, he wasn't shooting at the ground, he wasn't firing a warning shot. He was in a stretched out, two hands. It's called a Weaver stance, where your legs are apart. He's pushed out with two hands, looking straight at me. I saw his gun. Our postures were the same looking at each other when he fired that shot," Mattingly said.

When the grand jury decision came in on Sept. 23, clearing him and Cosgrove, Mattingly said he and his family watched it on television. He said that while he felt relieved, he knew he is still the subject of an internal probe by the police department, and that an FBI investigation looking into whether Taylor's civil rights were violated is still moving ahead.

He said his family members have also suffered greatly.

Mattingly said his family has received numerous death threats, including one just days ago in which someone threatened to kidnap his son, take him to a basement and torture him.

"When they started personally getting the death threats, as a father you can imagine how that would feel. When your daughters are getting threatened -- I mean, it just makes you feel helpless, number one, and angry at the same time because here you feel like you were trying to help the city," Mattingly said.

He said he is confident that he and the other officers involved did everything appropriately and that he feels betrayed by city officials, including Mayor Greg Fischer, for appearing to side with critics over cops.

"I spent 20 years giving my time, blood, my energy trying to help the city that I grew up in, that I love," Mattingly said. "And now when something tragic like this happens, now your family is the one that everybody wants to come after."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Record snow hits upper Midwest, red flag warnings from California to Colorado

ABC NewsBy MAX GOLEMBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A record-breaking snowstorm has hit the upper Midwest with some areas getting more than 10 inches of snow.

In Minneapolis, 7.9 inches of snow fell Tuesday making it the biggest snowstorm in recorded history there this early in the season.

In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 6.9 inches of snow fell making it the biggest single day October snowstorm in recorded history there.

Conditions were so slick in Wisconsin Tuesday that an airplane skidded off the runway in Mosinee late Tuesday evening.

Tuesday’s snowstorm is now done and a new one is already developing in the northern Rockies.

On Wednesday, a Winter Storm Watch and Winter Weather Advisory has been issued from the Rockies into the Great Lakes as a new snowstorm takes aim at the area again.

The new snowstorm is expected to begin later Wednesday in the Rockies and Thursday for the upper Midwest, and snowfall totals could reach up to a foot in some areas.

Meanwhile, Red Flag Warnings have been issued from California to Colorado as gusty winds are expected for the region over the next few days.

Wind gusts over the next few days could reach near 40 mph in Northern California and 40 to 50 mph from Utah to Colorado and fire danger will be critical from Northern California to New Mexico.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Epsilon is lingering southeast of Bermuda with winds of 85 mph, and a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the island nation.

Epsilon is forecast to move east of Bermuda, only bringing gusty winds and some rain to the island with no major impacts expected and no direct threat to the U.S.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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