November 11 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Jenni Marsh, Nectar Gan, Stephanie Halasz, Kara Fox, Ed Upright, Emma Reynolds and Roya Wolverson, CNN

Updated 0515 GMT (1315 HKT) November 12, 2020
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9:28 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

New York's largest hospital system anticipates it won't initially receive enough vaccine for all workers

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

An ambulance pulls into the Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Northwell Health Hospital in the Queens borough of New York City, on November 10.
An ambulance pulls into the Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Northwell Health Hospital in the Queens borough of New York City, on November 10. Anthony Behar/Sipa USA/FILE

New York state’s largest hospital system is anticipating it won’t get an ample supply of Covid-19 vaccine for all of its frontline workers in the first rounds of distribution. 

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine could be sent around the country within a matter of weeks. The company announced Monday that initial clinical trial results show it’s more than 90% effective and it could apply for authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine as soon as next week.

Healthcare workers, essential workers, the elderly, and those with underlying immune conditions will be given priority. 

Northwell Health is expecting monthly shipments of the vaccine, said Dr. Mark Jarrett, who’s coordinating the health system’s immunization program and has been on regular calls with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed, which is also working on the federal government’s vaccine distribution plan.  

Northwell Health has about 55,000 workers who have face-to-face contact with patients, Jarrett said. 

We know that first shipment or two is going to be a limited supply,” he said. “I doubt we’ll get enough for everybody.” 

Who'll get the vaccine first: Northwell has about 55,000 workers who have face-to-face contact with patients, Jarrett said. It has developed a tiered system for deciding who gets it first. The most important factor is how closely the employee works with coronavirus patients, but they’ll also take into account a worker's age, since older people are more vulnerable. It will not be mandatory.

How they'll get it: Pfizer’s vaccine has to be kept at minus 75 degrees Celsius (-103F), and hospitals typically don’t have freezers that cold. Pfizer is shipping the vaccines in boxes packed with dry ice that needs to be replenished. Northwell is not depending on those “thermal shippers" and has bought ultra-low temperature freezers for its 17 hospitals.

“We call them pizza boxes,” Jarrett said of Pfizer’s shippers. “They may work perfectly fine, but every battle plan works until the first bullet is shot. We did not want to take a chance.” 

Who'll get it next: The federal government has not yet decided what formula it will use to distribute the vaccines to states, according to Jarrett. He said he suspects the vaccine will be distributed to states based on how many cases they have, but there’s a “medical controversy” over whether that’s the right approach. 

The goal would be to protect hardest hit communities, but the vaccine doesn’t take effect for a month to six weeks after the first dose is given, and by that time other communities could be harder hit. The vaccine is given in two doses three weeks apart.  

The government could be considering other factors, such as the number of elderly people in each state, or which states have populations living in higher densities, which could allow the virus to spread more rapidly. 

“I’m sure they are figuring this out now as we speak,” Jarrett said, adding that health officials might not want to make a decision until closer to the vaccine’s distribution date, since the spread of the virus could change.

9:01 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

The US hits a new record high Covid-19 cases, with at least 140,543 new cases reported

From CNN’s Haley Brink

There have been at least 140,543 new coronavirus cases reported in the United States so far today, Johns Hopkins University data shows. This is the highest single day reporting since the pandemic began. 

This also marks the ninth consecutive day of more than 100,000 cases of Covid-19 in the US.

This count is not final -- and the total number of new cases will not be available until overnight tonight. 

The second highest number of cases reported to date is November 10 at 136,325 daily new cases, as reported by JHU. 

CNN is tracking Covid-19 cases in the US here:

9:00 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

US hospitals approach "crisis level" as some reach capacity and others face threats of strike

From CNN's Kay Jones, Brad Parks, Alec Snyder and Rebekah Riess

Hospitals in the United States are coming under immense strain as some reach full capacity and others face threats of strikes by staff.

Mississippi's Department of Health announced Wednesday that the state’s Covid-19 hospitalizations “are on track toward the crisis level we saw this summer,” warning that if changes weren't made immediately, there would be critical shortages of first-line care for those seriously ill or injured.  

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves extended mask mandates for 15 countries through December 11, according to a release from the Governor’s office. 

The Mayo Clinic Health System said its hospitals in Northwest Wisconsin were full to capacity, with 100% of its beds filled in the region. It said that half of the intensive care unit capacity is occupied by Covid-19 patients, while 40% of regular medical surgical beds are being used by Covid-19 patients -- who it said normally stay in hospital 2-3 times longer than non-Covid patients. 

"The public urgently needs to treat Covid-19 as the health emergency it is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” the Mayo Clinic Health System said in a joint statement sent to CNN Wednesday.

Approximately 300 hospital staff in the area are on work restrictions due to exposure to Covid-19, the statement added. 

"While we are temporarily deferring elective procedures in order to free up beds for Covid-19 patients, the public needs to understand we continue to care for other patient populations in addition to Covid patients -- we remain open for trauma, emergency care, and urgent care needs," the statement said.

Meanwhile, at least 1,500 nurses in Philadelphia are on the verge of striking, according to a spokesperson with the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP). 

The nurses feel they have been “pushed to the brink by unsafe staffing that seriously undermines patient safety,” according to the release.

“The frontline nurses at four Philadelphia-area hospitals have taken steps toward a strike to protect their patients and themselves on the cusp of a second deadly wave of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the release said. "The nurses are seeking a commitment to safe minimum staffing levels from each of the four hospitals."

CNN has reached out to Trinity Health, Tower Health and Einstein Health for comment. 

8:12 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

More than 240,000 coronavirus deaths reported in United States

From CNN's Amanda Watts

The United States has reported more than 240,000 coronavirus deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

There have been at least 10,290,284 Covid-19 cases in the US and at least 240,044 people have died, the JHU figures show. 

So far today, Johns Hopkins has tallied 38,155 new cases and 373 reported deaths. On Tuesday, the US hit another single-day record with 136,325 Covid-19 cases -- and the eighth day in a row that more than 100,000 people were diagnosed.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

CNN is tracking US cases here: 

7:25 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Basketball and football games postponed because of Covid-19

From CNN's Homero DeLaFuente

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey said his confidence in hosting the remaining football season was "shaken but not deterred" after four SEC games were postponed this week.

The Saturday games were postponed after Covid-19 contact tracing protocols left schools with an insufficient number of players. They were:

  • Alabama at LSU
  • Auburn at Mississippi State
  • Texas A&M at Tennessee
  • Georgia at Missouri

Sankey addressed the media in a Wednesday teleconference, saying the disruptions to the season were "a difficult circumstance ... No way to paint it otherwise, but we knew that challenges would emerge for college sports."

He said the SEC would “continue to move forward with our efforts to support healthy competition, leading us to a conference championship in football. That's been our goal while acknowledging the potential for adjustments that may be needed.”

The SEC championship is scheduled for December 19.

Basketball: Meanwhile, the University of Miami and Stetson University’s season-opening men’s basketball game has been postponed due to a positive Covid-19 test within the Stetson basketball program.

Stetson men's basketball temporarily suspended all team activities on Wednesday after a student-athlete tested positive for Covid-19. The school said the entire men’s basketball team is in isolation and following state and CDC guidelines.  

The two schools, who were scheduled to play on November 25, will look to reschedule the game for another time.

6:52 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

White House coronavirus task force warns of "continued, accelerating community spread"

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

The White House coronavirus task force is again alerting states of “accelerating” coronavirus spread and strongly recommending increased testing as cases and hospitalizations rapidly rise across the country.

“There is continued, accelerating community spread across the top half of the country, where temperatures have cooled and Americans have moved indoors,” its weekly reports dated November 8 and distributed to states Tuesday evening said. 

The task force, which warned of “significant deterioration in the Sunbelt” in last week’s set of reports, said that that deterioration has only continued in the past week, “leading to the most diffuse spread experienced to date.”

The weekly reports continue to provide an unvarnished, unfiltered look at the reality of each state’s current situation, which comes as President Donald Trump and task force leader Vice President Mike Pence have declined to address the pandemic publicly in weeks. The task force leadership is under constant scrutiny, while the White House has repeatedly declined to make all of its reports publicly accessible.  

In recommendations to several states, the task force called for an expansion of testing, particularly to target asymptomatic cases. 

“The silent community spread that precedes and continues throughout surges can only be identified and interrupted through proactive and increased testing and surveillance,” reports for multiple states said, suggesting expanding point-of-care antigen tests.

The reports added: “Proactive testing must be part of the mitigation efforts, inclusive of mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and immediate isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine.”

Read the full story here:

6:16 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

South Africa lifts remaining international travel restrictions

From CNN's Brent Swails

South Africa will lift its remaining international travel restrictions, opening its borders to all travelers presenting a negative Covid-19 certificate. 

“We expect that those measures that we are going to take will greatly assist businesses particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said during a televised address on Wednesday evening. 

Ramaphosa said the country was ready to move into the recovery phase of its Covid-19 response, as he announced a further opening of the country’s economy. 

We should be proud of our response as a nation,” said Ramaphosa, urging South Africans to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. 

“It is our individual actions over the next few weeks and months that will decide the fortunes of our nation. The actions we must take are straightforward, but they are not insignificant. They can and do save lives.” 

For more than two months, the number of new infections nationwide has remained below 2,000 per day. South Africa’s recovery rate is 92% with deaths and hospital admissions declining for 14 consecutive weeks. Ramaphosa did warn, however, that the situation in the Eastern Cape Province was showing signs of a resurgence that would need to be dealt with swiftly. 

5:37 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Spain becomes fourth European country to surpass 40,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN’s Claudia Rebaza in London

Healthcare workers handle swabs during a mass testing for COVID-19 at a temporary testing centre in Ronda, Spain on November 11.
Healthcare workers handle swabs during a mass testing for COVID-19 at a temporary testing centre in Ronda, Spain on November 11. Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

Spain has reported more than 40,000 coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began, data from the Spanish Health Ministry on Wednesday showed. 

It has the second-highest number of deaths per 100,000 people of any country except for Belgium, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Spain is the fourth country in Europe to pass the 40,000 deaths mark, after the United Kingdom (which today passed 50,000), Italy and France.

Spanish authorities reported a one-day increase of 349 deaths from Covid-19, with the total death toll from the virus now standing at 40,105. Spain also reported 19,096 additional infections Wednesday, taking it to more than 1.4 million infections total since the start of the pandemic. 

5:34 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Moderna expects to know by the end of the month whether Covid-19 vaccine works

From CNN Health's Elizabeth Cohen

A blood sample is prepared for analysis by a laboratory technician at Accel Research Sites on August 4, in DeLand, Florida, during the Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna.
A blood sample is prepared for analysis by a laboratory technician at Accel Research Sites on August 4, in DeLand, Florida, during the Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty Images/FILE

Moderna has finished accumulating data for a first analysis of its Covid-19 vaccine and expects to have an announcement on the vaccine’s efficacy by the end of the month, according to a company statement. 

Pfizer announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90% effective

How it works: Moderna is conducting a clinical trial of 30,000 participants, with half receiving the vaccine and half receiving a placebo, which is a shot of saline that does nothing. 

What they need: For Moderna’s vaccine to be considered for authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration, at least 53 study participants need to become ill with Covid-19. The trial hit that 53 mark Wednesday, but Moderna doesn’t know if the participants who became ill received the vaccine or the placebo.

What happens now: The company is preparing data to send to the trial’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board, an independent panel of experts. That board will look to see how many of the participants who became ill received the vaccine and how many received the placebo. If a statistically significant number received the placebo, that means the vaccine is effective against the virus. 

Moderna thinks the board will report their efficacy results before the end of the month. Moderna expects that by the time the announcement is made, more than 53 participants will become ill with Covid-19, since cases are rapidly rising in the US. 

Pfizer's interim analysis looked at the first 94 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among more than 43,000 volunteers who got either two doses of the vaccine or a placebo. Russia's Sputnik V vaccine interim analysis came after just 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that Moderna’s vaccine could soon follow in Pfizer's footsteps.

“Moderna has an almost identical mRNA,” Fauci told Financial Times correspondent Hannah Kuchler. “We hope we're going to see a similar kind of result from Moderna. If we do, then we'll have two vaccines in play.”

He said he would "really be surprised if we did not see a high degree of efficacy."