This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Thursday, October 15th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. Certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens are under a zoned shutdown. A look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:

1:30 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday co-authored a letter to President Donald Trump on behalf of the nation's governors requesting a meeting to discuss the vaccination distribution plan, which is expected to require significant funding and coordination between the federal government and states.

The letter was written by Cuomo, who is serving as the newly appointed chair of the National Governor's Association, and the Republican Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson. Their request suggests a growing anxiety over what some experts predict will be a chaotic and confusing process early next year when a vaccine is expected to be available.

"Governors are willing to assist your Administration's efforts to ensure a national vaccination campaign is implemented smoothly and efficiently," the letter read. "However, additional guidance and clarification is needed on the roles and expectations of states in a successful COVID-19 vaccine distribution and implementation plan."

The two governors went on to ask Trump to clarify the role of federal and state government, the funding needed and "the planned supply chain management and vaccine allocation process."

Four drugmakers are currently undergoing large-scale trials for vaccine candidates. Johnson & Johnson on Monday paused its study after a participant became ill.

Given the tightened federal guidelines for approval, a coronavirus vaccine is not expected to be approved until after Election Day on November 3rd. But back in September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told public health officials in 50 states and five large cities to prepare to deliver vaccinations to health care workers and other high-risk groups as soon as late October or early November.

The CDC laid out a scenario where two vaccines would be distributed, but the agency also said its plans were hypothetical. Amid Trump's push to approve a vaccine before the election, there are signs of a growing skepticism around the drug development process. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that nearly half of Americans say they would not get the coronavirus vaccine if it were available today

Last month, Cuomo announced that New York state would form its own panel of scientists and public health experts to review the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine candidate approved by the Food and Drug Administration, setting up a potential clash with the Trump administration. .

"Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion and I wouldn't recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government's opinion," Cuomo said at the time.

WHO Says Daily Virus Deaths In Europe Could Grow To 5 Times April's Peak

Signs of a second coronavirus wave in Europe are growing more ominous with each passing day as several countries, including France, the United Kingdom and Spain, scramble to enforce new restrictions. On Thursday, the World Health Organization reported that the continent has recorded nearly 700,000 new coronavirus cases this week, the highest number since the pandemic started and a breathtaking example of how fast the disease appears to be spreading.

“The fall/winter surge continues to unfold in Europe, with exponential increases in daily cases and matching percentage increases in daily deaths,” Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO's European Director, said Thursday during an online briefing to reporters.

The number of infections recorded in Europe is now at seven million, after rising by a million in just 10 days.

"The evolving epidemiological situation in Europe raises great concern," he added.

Across Europe, there are now more than 1,000 virus-related deaths per day, making COVID-19 the fifth leading cause of death.

Kluge said it was now time for countries "to step up." He pointed to one model that projected that deaths in January 2021 could be 4 to 5 times higher than that in April should policies stay relaxed.

On Wednesday, France announced that it would begin a four-week curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the Paris region and eight other major cities. England has unveiled a three-tier system of restrictions affecting mostly its northern region. Beginning on Saturday, Londoners will be prohibited from gathering indoors with other households and discouraged from using public transportation.

Businesses, schools, and houses of worship, however, may continue to operate.

This week, London reported more than 8,000 coronavirus cases in a week, a critical threshold set by the government that caused it to be moved up into the second tier of restrictions. The capital is home to nearly 9 million residents, about a million more than New York City.

New York City is currently seeing an average of 500 new cases per day. Mayor Bill de Blasio has set 550 new daily cases as a warning threshold.