November 16 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton and Sebastian Shukla, CNN

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020
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4:38 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Rural Americans dying at nearly 3.5 times the rate of urban Americans, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Nadia Kounang

As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, rural areas are being hit the hardest. According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural Americans are dying at rates 3.45 times higher than the death rates of Americans living in metropolitan areas. 

As of Nov. 13, according to the CDC’s data, the seven-day death rate per 100,000 people for Americans living in large metro areas is 0.2, while in rural areas it is 0.69. The national average seven-day death rate is 0.33. 

In addition, the rate of new cases in rural areas is also higher than in urban areas. The rates of new cases in rural areas is 57 for every 100,000 people, a rate that is 1.7 times that of those who live in large, metropolitan areas. 

The latest national numbers: The US continues to hit record numbers in this phase of the pandemic, hitting at least 69,993 hospitalizations in a single day on Sunday, the highest it has been yet, and nearing approximately 180,000 cases in a single day on Friday. 

4:31 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

House members required to test before traveling to DC, new guidance says

From Kristin Wilson and Daniella Diaz

Because of the rise in Covid-19 cases around the country, House members are required to test for Covid-19 prior to traveling to Washington, DC, and 3-5 days after arriving, according to new guidance from the Office of Attending Physician obtained by CNN.

The office will begin offering testing for members, as well as staff, starting Monday. Because the members didn't receive 7 days advance notice to the new guidelines, they are exempt from the pre-travel test for this week's session but OAP encouraged them to test anyway.

The letter also lists examples of "close contact" for the lawmakers. 

"Examples of a close contact include a COVID 19 family member that lives in your home, a person you shared an automobile trip with, a person you shared a meal with closer than 6 feet in distance, etc," Attending Physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan wrote in the guidance.

4:36 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Covid-19 cases in California increase by 50% in the past week

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Cars line up for Covid-19 testing at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on November 14.
Cars line up for Covid-19 testing at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on November 14. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Covid-19 cases are on a dramatic rise in California, up 51.3% in the past week.

Daily cases have doubled in just 10 days, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in a news conference Monday. 

“We are now moving backwards, not forwards,” Newsom said, using the analogies of sounding the alarm and pulling the emergency brake. 

California’s positivity rate is 4.6% today, but has jumped from its lowest point – 2.5% – just one month ago. The state added at least 9,890 new cases Monday and has seen hospitalizations rise 48% in the past two weeks. Just last week, the state reported its 1 millionth Covid-19 case.

About 70% of the counties in the state are moving backward into more restrictive tiers, with 41 of the 58 counties falling under the most restrictive of the state’s four-tiered reopening system. That includes all counties in Southern California, including Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego.

In this most restrictive tier, where infections are considered widespread, guests are welcomed only outdoors at restaurants, gyms and places of worship. 

With Thanksgiving next week, Health Secretary Mark Ghaly urged Californians to “keep their guard up, even if they’re with people that they love that they haven’t seen in a while.”

California joined with Oregon and Washington on Friday, in issuing a travel advisory suggesting all residents avoid non-essential travel. Travelers are implored to self-quarantine for two weeks upon their arrival in to one of these West Coast states.

7:14 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Dow and S&P 500 hit new record highs 

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe 

US stocks rallied on Monday after Moderna said its experimental Covid-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective.

The Dow surged closer to the 30,000-point mark, a level it has never reached in its history, and closed just 48 points below it. The index closed up 1.6%, or 471 points, surpassing its February all-time high.

The S&P 500 also notched a new record closing high, ending up 1.2%.

The Nasdaq Composite closed up 0.8%.

Note: As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might still change slightly.

4:12 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Nevada health officials say more people are wearing masks, but it might be too late to reverse trend

From CNN’s Andy Rose

People wear masks while walking in Las Vegas, Nevada, in October.
People wear masks while walking in Las Vegas, Nevada, in October. Alex Menendez via AP

State health officials in Nevada say they are seeing more people complying with orders to wear a mask in public places as the state’s daily case count has skyrocketed, but the change of heart may have come too late to turn things around quickly.

“We are in the stages of exponential growth from cases that have occurred over the past month,” Julia Peek with the Division of Public and Behavioral Health said Monday.

Nevada reported at least 1,914 new coronavirus cases Monday as the statewide death toll rose to 1,917 since the pandemic began. There are now at least 984 people being treated in Nevada hospitals with a confirmed coronavirus infection – a new record.

The state’s Covid-19 response director, Caleb Cage, said enforcement of efforts to stop the spread have been uneven.

“What's been missing overall from the process is comprehensive mitigation measures that have been applied consistently at the local level,” Cage said. 

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Friday that he tested positive for Covid-19. Sisolak said in a written statement Monday that he has mild symptoms and continues to work in isolation.

“The governor's in good spirits,” added his spokesperson, Meghin Delaney. 

As they work closely with local health departments on a response to the surge, Cage added to the growing call for people to avoid large family holiday plans this year.

“I would personally request for people to stay home and stay with their immediate families on Thanksgiving,” he said.

4:02 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Best Western CEO calls stalled stimulus talks "maddening"

From CNN's Richard Davis

 Best Western CEO David Kong on Monday called congressional inaction on stimulus “tremendously maddening and frustrating,” despite promising vaccine news. 

“It's really disturbing to see that we can't come to some resolution, at least provide some relief, so we can get to the other side,” Kong said in an interview with Julia Chatterley on CNN’s “First Move.” 

Kong noted how the recent spike of Covid-19 cases has been causing the company a “tremendous” amount of cancellations and adding “fuel to fire to a very bad situation.”

In a report last week, ratings agency S&P said that even if a coronavirus vaccine is released next year, the battered lodging industry will take several years to recover. In a worrisome stat for hotel companies, year-over-year revenue per available room, which is a closely watched metric for gauging hotel health, has decreased 50% in 2020.

Kong also noted the industry’s revenue loss, calling it “incredible carnage” and pointed to the disconnect between struggling hotel owners and the recent stock market rally.

“This whole big stock market rally is happening on Wall Street, it's not Main Street,” Kong said. 

CNN’s Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.

3:06 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Moderna vaccine seems to protect people of color and the elderly equal to other groups, CEO says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A syringe is prepared for use in Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine trial in DeLand, Florida, on August 4.
A syringe is prepared for use in Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine trial in DeLand, Florida, on August 4. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Moderna coronavirus vaccine seems to protect some of the people most at risk of severe coronavirus disease – the elderly and people of color, Noubar Afeyan, the co-founder and chairman of Moderna, said Monday.

Afeyan said the company doesn’t see “any difference in the results,” among subgroups in its Covid-19 vaccine trials.

“Moderna actually slightly slowed down the trial recruitment to ensure that we had a substantial representation, and it turns out, 37% of our trials were people, were subjects, that are considered of color,” Afeyan said on CNN International Monday.

On Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that hospitalization rates are significantly higher among the Black, Latino and Alaska Native or Native American populations in the US compared to Asian and White people. Hospitalization rates are about four times higher among Blacks and Latinos than Whites.

Afeyan said the company also deliberately recruited older people to be a part of the trial. Older people are more vulnerable to getting severely ill from coronavirus infections and vaccines don’t always work as well among seniors. But interim results showed people who were over 65 and older had a “robust and equivalent” response from the vaccine, Afeyan said.

“Generally, it looks like the vaccine performs broadly across all the population groups,” Afeyan said.
2:19 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Countries letting coronavirus go unchecked are "playing with fire," WHO director-general says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said countries allowing the coronavirus go “unchecked” are playing with fire. 

“This is a dangerous virus, which can attack every system in the body,” he said during a news conference in Geneva on Monday. “Those countries that are letting the virus run unchecked are playing with fire.” 

Tedros did not name any particular country, but said there will be further needless deaths and suffering, he said, and there are a significant number of people who are experiencing long-term effects of the virus. Health workers are facing extreme mental health pressure and cases are burdening health systems severely in too many countries, Tedros said. 

He said that health workers went into medicine to save lives, and they must not be put in a position where they have to make impossible choices about who to care for. 

“We need to do everything we can to support health workers, keep schools open, protect the vulnerable and safeguard the economy,” Tedros said. 

“There is no excuse for inaction. My message is very clear: act fast, act now, act decisively,” Tedros said. “A laissez-faire attitude to the virus – not using the full range of tools available – leads to death, suffering and hurts livelihoods and economies.” 

1:20 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

US has distributed 50 million point of care tests to keep schools open, White House testing czar says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir said Monday that his agency has distributed more than 50 million point of care tests to keep schools and universities open and to protect the vulnerable in nursing homes.

The Health and Human Services Department has distributed Abbott’s BinaxNow rapid antigen tests to nursing homes, home health care organizations, American Indian nations and historically Black colleges and universities.

For this week, the agency has distributed more than 8 million BinaxNow tests to these targeted populations.

It has also sent additional tests to conduct large scale surveillance operations in Utah where there has been a spike in cases, and extra tests in the past 10 days to support school reopenings in southeastern Pennsylvania, Giroir said.

Giroir added that he has sent a surge of tests to multiple locations in 10 states and will be extending the surge of tests to New Mexico and Kentucky for the next two weeks.

The agency also sent extra tests to nursing homes in yellow zones —regions of the country with a high number of cases — in anticipation of the approval of the Eli Lilly monoclonal antibody treatments.

“For this therapy to be most effective, it needs to be given early,” Giroir said. “So distributing BinaxNow to all nursing homes means that they have a very sensitive way to immediately diagnosis symptomatic residents who might benefit from the Lilly monoclonal that’s actually in the states as of today.”