Sen. Harris halts travel after 2 staffers test positive; 'regional COVID storm' hits rural US — 8 updates

New COVID-19 cases are rising in 39 states, and 16 states recorded more new cases last week than in any other week-long period of the pandemic, according to The New York Times' Oct. 14 Coronavirus Briefing newsletter.

Eight updates:

1. Some of the country's least populous states are facing major COVID-19 surges in what North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called "a regional COVID storm," according to The New York Times. North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana are among the states with the highest number of cases per capita, while other rural states like Wyoming, Idaho and Nebraska have recently seen their highest seven-day case average of the pandemic.

2. Healthy young people might not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until 2022 as countries prioritize vaccination of health workers, front-line employees and the elderly, the World Health Organization's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, MD, said Oct. 14, according to CNBC.  

3. Pfizer and BioNTech will start testing their COVID-19 vaccine candidate in children after earning FDA approval to enroll participants age 12 and older, a trial researcher told CNN. Cincinnati Children's Hospital is slated to administer the vaccine to 16- and 17-year-olds this week.

4. Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris is limiting campaign travel through this weekend after two contacts have tested positive for COVID-19, reports CNN. A flight crew member and Ms. Harris's communications director, Liz Allen, both tested positive, though the two are not considered close contacts, as defined by the CDC, according to Joe Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon. "Neither of these people have had contact with Vice President Biden, Senator Harris or any other staffers since testing positive or in the 48 hours prior to their positive test results," Ms. O'Malley Dillon said. Ms. Harris has taken two PCR COVID-19 tests since Oct. 8 and tested negative.

5. Anthony Fauci, MD, said President Donald Trump is past the point of infectiousness, reports The New York Times. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reviewed data from President Trump's COVID-19 tests and said the results, combined with the fact that he is more than 10 days out from the onset of symptoms, indicate that he is not transmissible.

6. Barron Trump also had COVID-19, first lady Melania Trump said Oct. 14, according to USA Today. The first lady said that after an initial negative test, 14-year-old Barron tested positive, though he did not exhibit any symptoms. 

7. Washington state's top public health official, Kathy Lofy, MD, is leaving her role at the end of the year, reports The Seattle Times. Dr. Lofy has served as Washington's health officer for nearly seven years and helps lead the state's COVID-19 response.

8. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he may withhold state funds from local governments that don't enforce COVID-19 restrictions, reports The New York Times. Mr. Cuomo said Oct. 14 he was frustrated by reports of continued gathering and threatened to withhold state money in hot spots if safety regulations aren't enforced, though he didn't provide details.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 7,917,297
Deaths: 216,904
Recovered: 3,155,794

Counts reflect data available as of 8:30 a.m. CDT Oct. 15.

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