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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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.”

1:31 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

NCAA is planning to host entire men's March Madness tournament in Indianapolis

From CNN's David Close

Indianapolis hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2017.
Indianapolis hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2017. A.J. Mast/NCAA Photos/Getty Images

The NCAA is planning to host the famed men’s college basketball postseason tournament, known as March Madness, entirely within the metropolitan area of Indianapolis, Indiana.

NCAA officials say they are in preliminary discussions with the city and state to coordinate a single-site for the 68-team, single-elimination tournament. The city of Indianapolis had previously been scheduled to host the men’s Final Four from April 3 – 5, 2021. 

The NCAA had been planning to host the tournament at 13 different cities for early-round games but acknowledged the challenges to maintain safe environments were too great. 

“We have learned so much from monitoring other successful sporting events in the last several months, and it became clear it’s not feasible to manage this complex championship in so many different states with the challenges presented by the pandemic,” said NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt in a NCAA news release on Monday. 

In August, University of Kentucky Athletics Director and men's basketball selection committee Chairman Mitch Barnhart declared the NCAA would do what it takes to host March Madness in 2021, telling, “We will absolutely do all we can do, whatever assets, whatever resources, whatever it takes, to try and give our young people the chance to play the game they love.”

On Monday, NCAA President Mark Emmert added, “The Board of Governors and my top priorities are to protect the health and well-being of college athletes while also maintaining their opportunity to compete at the highest level. These principles have guided the decision-making process as we continue to assess how to have a fair and safe championship experience.”

When asked about plans for the women's March Madness tournament, the NCAA told CNN in an email, "The women’s basketball committee is continuing its ongoing discussions with staff, broadcast partners and medical experts to determine next steps for the women’s basketball tournament. The primary focus of these discussions is on the safety and well-being of the student-athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and anyone else who will be in our competition venues."

In September, the NCAA Division I Council approved a Nov. 25 start for men’s and women’s basketball teams to begin playing games for the upcoming season.

The NCAA was forced to cancel the 2020 edition of March Madness due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. Previously, the men's Division I championship had been played every year since its inception in 1939.

1:13 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

NFL's Cleveland Browns announce a player has tested positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Dan Kamal

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

The NFL’s Cleveland Browns have announced a player tested positive for Covid-19 Monday morning. The unnamed player immediately began to self-isolate, and the Browns closed the team’s facility while contract tracing is being conducted, per NFL-NFLPA Covid-19 protocols.

The 6-3 Browns, who are coming off a win Sunday over the Houston Texans, are scheduled to host the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday.

Here's the team's statement:

“This morning the Cleveland Browns were informed that a player has tested positive for COVID-19. Per our NFL-NFLPA standard protocols, the individual has immediately self-isolated and the Browns facility is closed while contact tracing is being conducted. The team will continue to consult with the league and medical experts on the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority.”
1:04 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Here are the latest Covid-19 numbers from New Jersey

From Evan Simko-Bednarski

People wait in line to get tested for Covid-19 in Newark, New Jersey, on November 12.
People wait in line to get tested for Covid-19 in Newark, New Jersey, on November 12. Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

New Jersey added 14,566 Covid-19 cases in the last four days, a marked increase in infections, according to the governor. 

"Five percent of our entire cumulative today has come in the past four days," Gov. Phil Murphy said in a press conference Monday.

Murphy said that the weekend's reported numbers now constituted the highest two days of reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Our highest case counts are now no longer from when this virus first began," he said. "They come now, when we are grappling with pandemic fatigue."

What happens now: Murphy announced an executive order to reduce indoor gathering limits to no more than 10 people. The order goes into effect tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. ET, with exemptions for religious services, weddings, political activities, performances and funerals.

Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 150 people, in effect a week from Monday, with exemptions for religious services, weddings, political activities and funerals.

1:01 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Sweden will limit public gatherings to 8, including in bars and restaurants

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in Glasgow and Henrik Pettersson in London

People eat at a bar in Stockholm on September 19.
People eat at a bar in Stockholm on September 19. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Sweden will ban public gatherings of more than eight people – including in bars and restaurants — as Covid-19 cases surge across the Nordic country that famously opted not to lock down during the first wave of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven urged fellow Swedes during a press conference Monday: “don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners, don’t host parties. Cancel.”

He said the pandemic has created a “new norm for the entire society.”

The new government restrictions do not include closing gyms or libraries but people are being urged to be cautious.

“We are living in a trying time — it will become worse — do your duty, take responsibility and stop the spread of the virus,” Lofven said. 

The new rule limiting gatherings is expected to start on Nov. 24, pending approval from relevant government consultation bodies. 

The restrictions will last for four weeks, although the government warned they could be extended over Christmas and New Year if the situation does not improve.

The latest official health data from this past Thursday shows that Sweden reported 4,519 new cases. 

Infections and hospitalizations have risen sharply throughout the autumn. The cumulative 14-day infection rate is approximately 511 cases per 100,000 people, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 

Sweden has registered 177,355 cases and 6,164 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

12:40 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

CDC committee will meet next week to decide who will get Covid-19 vaccine first

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A nurse exits a tent for coronavirus patients at University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, on October 30. Health care workers will be among the first to get the coronavirus vaccine.
A nurse exits a tent for coronavirus patients at University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, on October 30. Health care workers will be among the first to get the coronavirus vaccine. Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

An advisory committee to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet next week to decide who will get a Covid-19 vaccine first, according to a longtime member of the committee. 

Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices received notice last week that they’ll meet Nov. 23 for five hours, according to committee member Dr. William Schaffner. 

A spokesperson for the CDC confirmed the meeting. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Sunday that he expects the first vaccinations to occur “towards the latter part of December.” But there won’t be enough vaccine for everyone to get it at once, so the CDC will set priorities. 

Among the first to get the vaccine will be health care workers, and essential workers, and in addition, those over age 65 and people with underlying conditions because they are at high risk for complications from Covid-19.  

The question is what order these groups should be in, Schaffner said.  

“Health care workers are baked in – that’s the first thing to happen, no doubt about that,” said Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

After that, the committee members will need to define what underlying conditions would merit getting a vaccine early on, and what defines “essential workers.” That group could include everyone from police officers to supermarket clerks. 

“There have been huge ethical discussions about this,” Schaffner said. 

The CDC committee was expected to make a decision about prioritization months ago, but did not. 

12:31 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

UK has reached "initial agreement" with Moderna to secure 5 million doses of candidate vaccine

From CNN's Nada Bashir

The UK government has reached an “initial agreement” with pharmaceutical company Moderna to secure five million doses of their candidate vaccine, should it be approved by regulators, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Monday. 

“Should this latest vaccine be approved, the doses would be available from spring next year and I can announce that we have today secured an initial agreement for five million doses of the Moderna vaccine,” Hancock said during a Downing Street briefing.  

“This is another encouraging step forward, although I stress that this is preliminary. The safety data is limited, and their production facilities are not yet at scale,” he added. 

Earlier on Monday, Moderna announced that early data shows that its vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, making it the second vaccine in the United States to have a stunningly high success rate.

12:03 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

More than 1 million US children have been diagnosed with Covid-19, pediatricians say

From CNN's Maggie Fox

More than one million US children under 18 have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association said Monday.

“As of Nov. 12, a total of 1,039,464 children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic. In the one-week period ending Nov. 12th, there were 111,946 new cases in children, which is substantially larger than any previous week in the pandemic,” the groups said in a joint statement.

“The increase tracks surges in the virus in communities across the U.S.,” they added.

“As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over three decades, I find this number staggering and tragic. We haven’t seen a virus flash through our communities in this way since before we had vaccines for measles and polio,” Dr. Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents pediatricians, said.

"We urgently need a new, nationwide strategy to control the pandemic, and that should include implementing proven public health measures like mask wearing and physical distancing,” Goza added in a statement.

“This pandemic is taking a heavy toll on children, families and communities, as well as on physicians and other front-line medical teams. We must work now to restore confidence in our public health and scientific agencies, create fiscal relief for families and pediatricians alike, and support the systems that support children and families such as our schools, mental health care, and nutrition assistance," she said.

While severe illness and deaths remain rare, the group urged health authorities to do more to collect data on longer-term effects on the health of children.