While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for October 12

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INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Franklin College students return. Franklin College students return for in-person instruction Monday.

Last week, the school turned to virtual-only classes due to what appeared to be an increase in positive COVID-19 cases within the college’s student-athlete population. 

The college says the week-long pause of in-person classes and activities allowed for the expansion of surveillance testing of student-athletes and for data to be submitted to medical professionals for analysis and recommendations. 

Franklin College President Kerry Prather said in a release that after an increase of testing, medical professionals deemed the infection rate of student-athletes to be manageable.

“Of the surveillance testing done between Saturday of last week and Monday morning of this week, we have 151 results, double the sample size of the previous week,” said Prather. “The infection rate for this most recent testing of student-athletes is eight percent, deemed by our medical professionals as fully manageable in an environment that includes in-person instruction and activities within our mitigation guidelines. Therefore, we will return to traditional instruction and co-curricular activities next week.”

Prather added that additional steps will be taken out of an abundance of caution. Those steps include limitations on athletic activity, continued expanded testing of student-athletes beyond NCAA requirements and extension of testing into the non-athlete student population.

President Trump’s status. President Donald Trump on Sunday declared he was ready to return to the campaign trail despite unanswered questions about his health on the eve of a Florida rally meant to kick off the stretch run before Election Day.

His impending return comes after the White House doctor said he was no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say explicitly whether Trump had tested negative for it. The president insisted he was now “immune” from the virus, a claim that was impossible to prove and added to the unknowns about the president’s health.

“I’m immune,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” “The president is in very good shape to fight the battles.”

In a memo released Saturday night by the White House, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley said Trump met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for safely discontinuing isolation and that by “currently recognized standards” he was no longer considered a transmission risk. The memo did not declare Trump had tested negative for the virus.

But sensitive lab tests — like the PCR test cited in the doctor’s statements — detect virus in swab samples taken from the nose and throat. Some medical experts had been skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early in the course of his illness. Just 10 days since an initial diagnosis of infection, there was no way to know for certain that someone was no longer contagious, they said.

His return to full-fledged rallies will be in Florida on Monday, a comeback that comes with the president facing stubborn deficits in the polls. The Trump campaign and White House has not indicated that any additional safety measures will be taken to prevent the transmission of the virus among those traveling on Air Force One, at the event site or at rallies scheduled for Pennsylvania and Iowa later in the week.

Three-tier lockdown. Millions of people in northern England are anxiously waiting to hear how much further virus restrictions will be tightened in coming days as the British government confirmed Sunday that it will be introducing a new system for local lockdowns.

In response to the virus’ resurgence, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce in Parliament on Monday a three-tier local lockdown system, formally known as “Local COVID Alert Levels,” for England, his office said.

Under the new system, the country will be placed into “medium,” “high” and “very high” alert levels. Johnson’s office said the government is working with local leaders to decide which areas are covered by the very high alert level, and the appropriate interventions in those areas.

Details of what is involved at each level haven’t been confirmed but the highest level is widely expected to involve the closure of pubs and restaurants and the banning of household mixing, both indoors and outside, among other measures.

The new lockdown system, which is intended to simplify the process by which local restrictions are imposed, has been widely anticipated for a couple of weeks following a sharp increase in new cases. Following further discussions early Monday, Johnson will inform lawmakers of the new system before hosting a briefing along with Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and the government’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, warned that the U.K. is at a “tipping point” akin to where the country was in March.

NFL juggles schedule. The NFL has juggled its regular-season schedule due to coronavirus outbreaks with the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots.

Nine teams are being affected, some over a period of weeks through Nov. 22: New England, Tennessee, Denver, Buffalo, Kansas City, Miami, the Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets and Jacksonville.

Denver’s game at New England, originally scheduled for Sunday and then moved to Monday night when the Patriots had more positive COVID-19 tests, now will be played next Sunday afternoon.

Kansas City’s game at Buffalo, which was supposed to be played Thursday night, has been moved back to Monday, Oct. 19.

Tuesday night’s game with the Bills at the Titans, which originally was to be played Sunday, remains on schedule despite another positive test result in Tennessee.

Other changes:

  • Jets at Chargers moves from Week 6 to Week 11.
  • Jaguars at Chargers moves from Week 8 to Week 7.
  • Chargers at Broncos moves from Week 11 to Week 8.
  • Chargers at Dolphins moves from Week 7 to Week 10.
  • Dolphins at Broncos moves from Week 6 to Week 11.

Changes in bye weeks show Denver’s switching to this week from Week 8; New England’s from next week to this week; the Chargers’ from Week 10 to next week; the Dolphins’ from Week 10 to next week; Jacksonville’s from Week 7 to Week 8; and the Jets’ from Week 11 to Week 10.

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