Coronavirus updates: 'Close contact' definition updated by CDC

The CDC offered new, more strict guidance on Wednesday.

A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide.

Over 41.1 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.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 8.3 million diagnosed cases and at least 221,987 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 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.


68 cases, 2 deaths tied to North Carolina church: Health department

At least 68 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been tied to a church in North Carolina, health officials said Wednesday.

The cases include at least two deaths and four hospitalizations, officials said. Six cases were among residents of an assisted living facility in Charlotte.

The outbreak has been tied to convocation events held at the United House of Prayer For All People in Charlotte from Oct. 4 to 11, the Mecklenburg County Health Department said.

The health department said it has attempted to reach 94 close contacts reported by confirmed cases.

It has also alerted local health departments in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York to monitor for potential cases among attendees.
 
"We simply don’t know how far the spread has gone at this point," Dr. Raynard Washington, the department's deputy health director, said during an update earlier this week.

The outbreak has grown from nine cases since Saturday, Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC reported.

Health officials told the station that the church tried to ensure mask-wearing and social distancing, but that the measures were difficult to enforce.

Over 1,000 people were likely involved in the church's events that week, though the health department does not have a definitive count, Washington said.

ABC News was unable to reach United House of Prayer For All People officials for comment.


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.


Illinois reports most COVID-19 related deaths in single day since mid-June

Illinois saw 69 COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, its highest number since June 17, health officials said. Moreover, the state saw 4,342 new cases of COVID-19.

The state now has recorded 355,217 cases and 9,345 deaths, according to the state Department of Health. Health officials also reported that the positivity rate has increased for 15 consecutive days.

In response to the rising cases, Gov. JB Pritzker announced new restrictions Wednesday, Chicago ABC station WLS reported.

Starting this Friday, indoor dining at bars and restaurants will no longer be allowed. In addition, bars, restaurants and casinos must close by 11 p.m. All gatherings will be limited to 25 people or 25% capacity, whichever is less, according to WLS.

These restrictions will remain in place for at least the next 14 days, according to Pritzker.



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.