The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Lauren Kent, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright and Hira Humayun, CNN

Updated 12:19 a.m. ET, November 6, 2020
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3:45 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Pfizer opts out of US government distribution of Covid-19 vaccine 

From CNN Health’s Kevin Finnegan

A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on September 9.
A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on September 9. Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pfizer will not use the government’s vaccine distribution partner, McKesson, to distribute its Covid-19 vaccine in the US if it is authorized, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Instead, it will use its own distribution system to deliver the vaccine directly to health care providers.

Once the vaccine is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the company plans on shipping out 7.6 million doses per day from its facilities in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Puurs, Belgium. 

Distribution will be challenging because the Pfizer vaccine must be kept at a temperature of negative 103 Fahrenheit while being stored. Pfizer has designed shipping containers roughly the size of a suitcase that can maintain that temperature for up to 10 days.

Pfizer says its distribution plan was approved by the US government and is built on what the company calls a “flexible just in time system which will ship the frozen vials directly from our plants to the point of vaccination.” 

In a statement provided to CNN, the company reported that for the US market, “our distribution will be direct from Kalamazoo to point-of-use (POU), or our distribution center at Pleasant Prairie, WI to the points of vaccination or equivalent location. We continue to work very closely with the US Government on ensuring an effective distribution model.”

4:29 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Speaker Pelosi moves to expand COVID testing on Capitol Hill

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks to media at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill on November 3 in Washington, DC.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks to media at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill on November 3 in Washington, DC. Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

House Speaker Pelosi told members of her leadership team on Thursday that she will expand Covid-19 testing in the House.

According to a Senior Democratic aide, the United States Air Force will provide up to 2,000 high-quality tests per week for the entire Congress at no cost for the next six weeks.

The turn-around time on the tests is 6 to 12 hours. A requirement of this option is that if the traveler receives a positive test, the attending physician will perform an additional test to confirm the results. 

A longer-term solution is being explored.

3:04 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

People who tested positive for Covid-19 were more likely to report going to a workplace, rather than teleworking, study says 

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Employed adults who tested positive for Covid-19 were almost twice as likely to report regularly going to a workplace than those who tested negative, underscoring the importance of teleworking and workplace safety measures, according to research published Thursday in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

A CDC-led team looked at 314 US adults; 153 were symptomatic and had positive Covid-19 PCR tests and 161 were symptomatic people with negative test results. The participants were identified in outpatient health care facilities in July 2020. 

Of the 248 participants who reported their telework status in the two weeks before illness onset, the percentage who teleworked full- or part-time was lower among those with positive coronavirus tests. In these two weeks, those who had positive Covid-19 test results were also more likely to report going exclusively to a school setting or an office. 

These associations were also present when the analysis was restricted to those who did not represent critical infrastructure workers.  

The findings highlight socioeconomic differences among participants who did and did not telework, the authors wrote. Non-white employees and those who earned less had less opportunity to telework. 

“This investigation provides evidence of the potential health benefits of teleworking associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote the authors. 

“Allowing and encouraging the option to work from home or telework, when possible, is an important consideration for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” they said. 

When teleworking isn’t possible, worker safety measures should continue to be scaled up, they said. 

The research does have some limitations, including that the study population may not be representative of the US population and that different types of telework were not operationalized and participants weren’t asked about specific alternative work site policies provided by their employer. 

Some US states and cities have been upping restrictions such as mandatory mask-wearing in stores, offices and schools in response to the spike in cases across the country.

6:02 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Italy hits two new Covid-19 records as situation worsens

From CNN's Livia Borghese in Rome

A medical staffer performs swabs to test for coronavirus in the Military barracks of Cecchignola in Rome on October 27.
A medical staffer performs swabs to test for coronavirus in the Military barracks of Cecchignola in Rome on October 27. Andrew Medichini/AP

Italy has hit new records for the number of new Covid-19 infections and deaths in a single day, according to Thursday’s data from the country’s Health Ministry.

There were 35,505 new cases recorded, taking the total to 824,879 since the start of the pandemic. A further 445 people have died in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 40,192.

The total number of patients requiring intensive care now stands at 2,391, an increase of 99 in the past 24 hours. 

Thursday’s figures “are not a good sign,” said Gianni Rezza, director of the Prevention Department at the Health Ministry, adding that the worsening situation is why new restrictions are taking effect from Friday.

A “stay at home” order from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be enforced across the whole country.

In four regions with a higher contagion rate (Lombardy, Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta and Calabria), people will not be allowed to leave their homes unless it is for essential necessities, health or work. 

“The virus is running and we have to stop it,” Rezza added.

This post has been corrected to reflect that Valle d'Aosta -- not Liguria -- is one of the four regions where people will not be allowed to leave home except for essential trips.

3:42 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

As England begins its second lockdown, Boris Johnson says there's "light at the end of the tunnel"

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson answers questions during a briefing in Downing Street on November 5 in London.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson answers questions during a briefing in Downing Street on November 5 in London. Leon Neal/WPA Pool/Getty Images

There is “light at the end of the tunnel” as England begins a four-week lockdown to try to contain a second wave of Covid-19 infections, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

New restrictions took effect at the start of Thursday, requiring people to stay home in most circumstances.

“The UK government and the devolved administrations are working together on a joint approach to the Christmas period, because all of us want to ensure families can come together, wherever they live,” Johnson said at a press conference from Downing Street.

“The advice I've received suggests that four weeks is enough for these measures to make a real impact so these rules will expire and on the 2nd of December, we will move back to a tiered approach. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

“I have every confidence – if we follow this package of measures in the way that we can, and as have done before – I’ve no doubt that people will be able to have as normal a Christmas as possible.”

As coronavirus infections spike across Europe, Johnson said earlier this week that UK deaths in the second wave of the pandemic could potentially exceed those recorded in the spring, with the number of coronavirus patients in some hospitals "already higher than at the peak of the first wave."

3:34 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

Pennsylvania records record number of cases, as infections tick up across the US

Pennsylvania counted another 2,900 coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily increase since the pandemic began.

Health authorities in the state said that another 47 deaths had also been recorded, bringing the total number of fatalities there to 8,937.

The new numbers came as infections continued to rise across the United States.

Maryland added 1,198 new cases on Thursday, its second consecutive day of announcing over 1,000 infections. The Navy-Tulsa football game, scheduled for Saturday in Annapolis, was postponed after positive tests at the Naval Academy.

In El Paso, Texas, 1,920 cases were announced -- a decline from the 3,100 recorded the day before, but still above the region's seven-day rolling average.

The cases are announced one day after the US recorded 102,831 new coronavirus cases -- its highest number yet, and the first time the nation has reached the six-figure milestone in daily infections.

New cases have increased 21% over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

12:17 p.m. ET, November 5, 2020

NYC mayor says virus rates remain a concern

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio NYC Media

New York City is reporting 633 new daily Covid-19 cases on a seven-day average, which is well above its self-established threshold of 550 cases, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio 

The rise continues to be an area of concern, de Blasio said, adding that while testing is part of why the number is ticking up, “we want to see that number go down.”

The daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected Covid-19 is at 95, under the 200 threshold and down slightly from yesterday, he said.

The confirmed positivity level of those patients in 23.7%. The percent of people who tested positive for Covid-19 citywide is at 1.43% which is “a better report,” de Blasio said.

The mayor described the rates as a “level we can work with” but one the city wants to “push down.”

“At least it shows again a levelling off in the city,” de Blasio added. 

On the reported spread of the virus in Staten Island, the mayor said the situation there "is different than what we saw in Brooklyn and Queens,” which he said were “extended areas, interconnected areas, a bigger phenomenon, a bigger trend.”

“This is more isolated, less of an uptick for sure,” he said.

11:47 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

WHO says coronavirus can be beaten -- but prepare for the next pandemic now

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

The World Health Organization (WHO) shared three key messages with member states ahead of its 73rd World Health Assembly next week: Covid-19 can be beaten, don’t backslide on other critical health goals and prepare for the next pandemic.

First, we can beat Covid-19 with science, solutions and solidarity,” said WHO in a news release on Thursday.

This year, the annual assembly will meet virtually -- resuming on November 9.

It can be beaten

The WHO said although this is a global crisis, “many countries and cities have successfully prevented or controlled transmission with a comprehensive, evidence-based approach.”

“For the first time, the world has rallied behind a plan to accelerate the development of the vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics we need, and to ensure they are available to all countries on the basis of equity,” the organization said.

Maintain focus on other health goals

It added that there must not be backsliding on critical health goals.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a sobering reminder that health is the foundation of social, economic and political stability,” it said, adding that this pandemic is a reminder of the importance of the organization’s overall efforts to increase health coverage and better protect populations from health emergencies.

The statement praised member states for implementing initiatives to expand immunizations and to tackle things like cervical cancer and eye care.

The WHO will discuss a 10-year-plan for addressing neglected tropical diseases as well as efforts to address other issues, including meningitis and maternal, infant and young child nutrition.

Prepare for next pandemic now

Thirdly, the release added that member states "must prepare for the next pandemic now.”

“We’ve seen this past year that countries with robust health emergency preparedness infrastructure have been able to act quickly to contain and control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” it said.

In the upcoming session, the WHO will consider a draft resolution that strengthens member states preparedness for future health emergencies.

“This resolution calls on the global health community to ensure that all countries are better equipped to detect and respond to cases of Covid-19 and other dangerous infectious diseases,” WHO said.

11:18 a.m. ET, November 5, 2020

As Covid-19 keeps raging, some US states and cities have enacted new rules and curfews

From CNN's Holly Yan

Spring lockdowns helped stop hospitals from overflowing and drove down Covid-19 infection rates, saving countless lives in the process. Now, after states reopened and the summer surge erased much of the progress made during shutdowns, the US is in the throes of what doctors say will be the worst coronavirus surge yet.

But there's little appetite for more shutdowns. Instead, here's what some governors and mayors are doing to try to get a grip on the pandemic:

Most states now have mask mandates

A growing number of cities and at least 33 states require masks to be worn inside public places or under specific circumstances.

Michigan is one of many states grappling with an onslaught of new Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. So last week, the state ordered residents to wear masks in any gathering of two or more people at places such as stores, offices and schools, the state's health department said.

Local officials enact curfews

Some cities and counties are now under nightly curfews, including Miami-Dade County, Florida; El Paso County, Texas; and Pueblo, Colorado, which have all seen rampant spikes in new Covid-19 infections.

"What we are facing in Pueblo is a public health disaster, which threatens lives and our economy," Mayor Nicholas Gradisar said Thursday in announcing a two-week curfew.

Meanwhile, El Paso County, Texas, has implemented a two-week curfew, said Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the top government official in the county. Samaniego said all hospitals and intensive care units in the El Paso area had already hit 100% capacity.

In Florida, anyone in Miami-Dade County must wear a mask in public when social distancing is not possible or when there is no physical barrier present, according to an order from County Mayor Carlos Giménez. Miami-Dade said the mask mandate is good for business, too.

Restaurants must collect diners' personal info

In Michigan, restaurant diners and bar patrons must provide their phone numbers for contact tracing in case they get exposed to someone with coronavirus, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said.

New York state announced similar rules in September. At least one member of each party dining at a restaurant indoors must provide contact information in case a contact tracer needs to reach them, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said.

Capacity slashed at stores and places of worship

Some states are also clamping down on crowd sizes, both indoors and outdoors.

Connecticut, which had been one of the most successful states at handling the pandemic, will limit restaurants to 50% capacity, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

Religious ceremonies in Connecticut are limited to 50% capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller. Indoor event spaces are limited to 25 people, outdoor event spaces to 50 people, and theaters to 100 people.

Illinois is now under "resurgence mitigations" after test positivity rates soared in all regions of the state. As of Wednesday, all indoor restaurant and bar service is banned, and all meetings, gatherings or social events are limited to 25% capacity or a total of 25 guests, whichever is fewer.

In Colorado, health officials have backtracked on Denver's reopening. Restaurants are now limited to 25% capacity indoors, or no more than 50 people total per room. Places of worship are capped at 25% capacity or 50 people, and retail stores are now limited to 25% capacity.

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