November 17 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Sebastian Shukla and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, November 18, 2020
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11:39 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Retail sales grew less than expected in October, as economists worry about a "difficult winter"

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

People shop at the Westfield Santa Anita mall on October 7 in Arcadia, California.
People shop at the Westfield Santa Anita mall on October 7 in Arcadia, California. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

US retail sales grew at a slower pace than economists had predicted last month — prompting worries about a "difficult winter" with lower consumer spending before a recovery next year.

Retail sales increased by 0.3% to $553.3 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in October, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday. That's below expectations of a 0.5% increase, and it's down from a revised 1.6% in September.

Boosting that figure significantly were sales of cars and car parts. They have been buoyant since the summer and continued to increase at a faster rate last month, pushing the overall sales numbers up. Stripping out cars, retail sales increased only 0.2% in October.

Meanwhile non-store sales, such as online purchases, jumped 3.1%. Economists said that was probably largely due to Amazon's Prime Day in mid-October. In-store sales declined further.

11:10 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Sweden reports more than 15,000 new Covid-19 cases since Friday

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow

Sweden has recorded another 15,084 cases of Covid-19 since Friday, including 2,178 registered in the last 24 hours, according to official Health Agency data published on Tuesday.

This is a slight decrease in the number of cases recorded during the same period last week. 

There were 6,743 new cases recorded on Friday alone, the highest daily toll recorded since the start of the pandemic. 

A further 61 deaths have been recorded since then, taking the country’s total number of lives lost due to the pandemic to 6,225. 

In a reversal of its lax approach to the pandemic so far, the Swedish government on Monday announced plans to introduce a ban on public gatherings of more than eight people, including in bars and restaurants.

10:37 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

What it's like inside a potential vaccine distribution hub

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A German airlines Lufthana-owned cargo team is gearing up to push out the potential Pfizer coronavirus vaccine once it is approved. CNN went inside this pharmaceutical logistics hub in Germany, which is the biggest in Europe.

The timeline for transportation at this hub is quick.

“They come here, they want to spend as little time as possible in a place like this, and then get it out,” CNN's Fred Pleitgen reported.

Once the approval comes, things can move quickly. However, there are logistical challenges.

Currently, the vaccine needs to be stored at about minus 75 degrees Celsius, which is about 50 degrees colder than any vaccine currently used in the United States. So the coronavirus vaccines will be transported in special cooling containers that can be cooled down to minus 105 degrees Fahrenheit by using big amounts of dried ice.

Here's the challenge: The colder a vaccine needs to be stored, the more difficult it is to transport that vaccine. And the more dried ice you put in a container, the less space it will have for vaccines.

This cooling container setup also emits a lot of carbon dioxide, and too much of it in an airplane cabin can be dangerous for the crew. This puts another layer of limits on how much you can transport in a single round.

Take a look at the distribution facility and setup:

11:10 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Navajo Nation president says strict public health measures helped them avoid one of the US pandemic waves

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez speaks with CNN on Tuesday, November 17.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez speaks with CNN on Tuesday, November 17. CNN

The Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, has issued lockdown orders as coronavirus spreads in the area.

Jonathan Nez, the president of the Navajo Nation, said strict measures like this lockdown have helped the community avoid one of three pandemic waves.

"We are right now going through our second wave. And this country is going through its third wave. So we've managed to not go through one of the waves this country has gone through because of these very tough public health emergency orders," he said.

He urged loved ones outside of the Navajo Nation not to visit the area as a way of curbing the spread of coronavirus.

"Stay local and stay safe. And that means, stay on the Navajo Nation. Our family and friends off the nation now is not the time to come home or visit. We're all in this together," he told CNN.

While it comes to vaccine development and possible distribution, Nez said indigenous people "have a seat at the table" with the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

"We are hoping — of course, you have to be hopeful for your people that we will be on the list of vaccine when it's available," he said.

Watch the interview:

10:42 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

“Try as best as possible to keep the schools open,” Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci on CNN's "Newsroom" on November 17.
Dr. Anthony Fauci on CNN's "Newsroom" on November 17. CNN

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Tuesday that, even as some sites close, schools should stay open as much as possible. 

“We’re seeing certain local people, be they mayors or leaders in the community, doing selected closing of places that are highly vulnerable, clearly among them are bars and anything that has congregate setting, particularly indoors,” he said.  

But, Fauci said, in many cases, schools can be kept open safely.

 “The default position to be is try as best as possible to keep the schools open, but you’ve got to have not one size fits all, you’ve got to take a look at what is going on in the particular location where you’re at,” Fauci said. “But we should be trying to keep the children in school as safely as we possibly can.” 

One way to do that, he said, is getting resources to schools to allow, for example, hybrid schooling with some physical distancing or with some alternating of classes. 

“I don’t want to dictate that from here to the school, because I’m not there,” Fauci said, “but, do what you can to keep the children and the teachers safe, but try as best as possible to keep the schools open.” 

WATCH:

 

10:09 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

GOP. Sen. Chuck Grassley is quarantining after he was exposed to Covid-19

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Kristin Wilson

Sen. Chuck Grassley walks in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, on October 23.
Sen. Chuck Grassley walks in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, on October 23. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley was exposed to Covid-19 and will immediately quarantine, according to an announcement from his office. 

Grassley issued the following statement: 

“I learned today that I’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. I will follow my doctors’ orders and immediately quarantine as I await my test results. I’m feeling well and not currently experiencing any symptoms, but it’s important we all follow public health guidelines to keep each other healthy.”
10:00 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

More than 247,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US

There have been at least 11,214,231 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 247,356 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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

 So far today, Johns Hopkins has reported 11,251 new cases and 154 reported deaths. 

10:04 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

North and South Dakota doctors face ICU and staffing shortages as coronavirus cases skyrocket

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

From left, on CNN's "New Day" on November 17: Dr. Michael LeBeau, president of the Bismarck region of Sanford Health in North Dakota and Dr. Nancy Babbitt, a family medicine physician at Creekside Medical in Rapid City, South Dakota.
From left, on CNN's "New Day" on November 17: Dr. Michael LeBeau, president of the Bismarck region of Sanford Health in North Dakota and Dr. Nancy Babbitt, a family medicine physician at Creekside Medical in Rapid City, South Dakota. CNN

North and South Dakota health officials say that doctors and nurses are struggling to keep up with the number of coronavirus patients. 

Dr. Nancy Babbitt, a family medicine physician at Creekside Medical in Rapid City, South Dakota, said that there are not enough nurses available to help Covid-19 patients use the bathroom. 

“When we look at the South Dakota Department of Health website, it does indicate that there are beds available and hospital capacity and ventilator capacity, but when I speak to physicians that work at the hospital and I speak to nurses that work at the hospital, they're struggling because of staffing issues,” Babbitt said. 

“I spoke to a nurse last week and she was devastated because the nurses are finding Covid patients are so weak that they can't get out of bed and the nurses are not able to get to them in time to help them get to the bathroom,” she added.

There was a day last week where her county hit 88% positivity, Babbitt said.

“That is devastating for our community because it tells us that we are grossly under-testing. … It's just still shocking to me how far into this we are and people are still complaining of not enough tests,” she said. 

Dr. Michael LeBeau, president of the Bismarck region of Sanford Health in North Dakota, said his facility has no ICU beds left. 

While administrators are working on different plans for the near future, it’s up to the public to help stop the spread, he said. 

“The message is simple: The rate of spread is not sustainable. And we have been very active with our community continuing to educate and explain that if we're going to make any changes, today’s got to be that day,” he said. 

Babbitt said she tries to “educate, educate, educate” patients who are still skeptical of the pandemic. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem still maintains that she will not implement a mask mandate.

“I think our governor should acknowledge [she has] no experience with a viral pandemic. She's not alone. Nobody did really. Go to the experts and lay out a plan associated with all of the information that we've been given and that we know. We have learned so much in the last six, seven months. There's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't be going to the experts for this advice,” Babbitt said. 

Watch:

10:31 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Fauci: “I will take a vaccine and will recommend to my family to also take it” when FDA approves

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Dr. Anthony Fauci on CNN's "Newsroom" on November 17.
Dr. Anthony Fauci on CNN's "Newsroom" on November 17. CNN

The nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci sais he will take the Covid-19 vaccine and will recommend it to his family once it is scrutinized and approved by the scientists at the Food and Drug administration.

"When they say it's safe and effective to give... I will take a vaccine and I will recommend to my family to also take it," he told CNN Tuesday.

He added:

"The process is transparent and independent. You have to trust me on that. The independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board looked at that data and judged that this was an effective vaccine," he said. "Those data are going to be scrutinized by career scientists at the FDA. Those data will be presented to an advisory committee that are going to look at it, an independent advisory committee. People like myself and fellow scientists will have access to the data."

WATCH: