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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12:37 p.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Iowa governor says Covid-19 hospitalizations have more than doubled since Nov. 1 

From CNN's Gregory Lemos 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday that hospitalizations have more than doubled since Nov. 1.

There are 1,510 people in the hospital with Covid-19, she said during a news conference. At the start of the month 14% of patients had Covid-19. Today, that number is 28%.  

Reynolds said hospitalizations have been climbing over the past two weeks "and in some cases have been significant." 

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 2,003 new cases of Covid-19 and a 17.1% positivity rate Tuesday, according to the Covid-19 dashboard. At least 2,025 people have died from the virus since the state began its reporting.  

12:00 p.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Grassley aide won't say who exposed the senator to Covid-19

From CNN's Manu Raju and Ted Barrett

Sen. Chuck Grassley speaks on Capitol Hill on October 14 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Chuck Grassley speaks on Capitol Hill on October 14 in Washington, DC. Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images

An aide to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley won’t say who the person is that exposed the senator to Covid-19.  

The aide also said people who have been in contact with the senator have been “appropriately notified” about the potential exposure. 

Here's a statement from Grassley aide Michael Zona:

“Sen. Grassley and the office are following all relevant public health guidelines as well as those from his doctors and the Senate attending physician. We will provide further details when we are able. The office has been limiting staff contact with Senator Grassley since the beginning of the pandemic and following the guidelines of the Senate attending physician about social distancing and mask wearing. Those who have been in contact with Senator Grassley have been appropriately notified and are instructed to follow the advice of their physicians as well as all CDC and local health guidelines.”

Earlier today, the Iowa GOP senator announced in a statement that he had been exposed to Covid-19 and was quarantining.

11:40 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

White House coronavirus task force warns of "further deterioration" as pandemic worsens

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The White House coronavirus task force has again ramped up its warnings to states in a weekly report as the pandemic continues to aggressively worsen, raising alarms on the potential impact of rising cases on hospitals. 

“There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration. Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies,” state reports dated Nov. 15 obtained by CNN said. 

The language in the weekly reports, which offer the administration’s most unvarnished picture of the pandemic, has become progressively more dire in recent weeks, matching the severity of the current situation as the President himself remains silent on rising cases, focusing instead on positive vaccine developments in his only public event on the matter in a month last Friday. 

North Dakota remains the state with the most cases per 100,000 population, followed by South Dakota, then Iowa, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, and Montana. Hawaii is the state with the fewest cases per 100,000 population. 

This week’s reports also included a comparison to Europe, which is experiencing, per the task force, “a fall surge similar to the USA.” Europe, however, is “showing early signs of improvement,” the reports said, citing mask requirements in public settings, with most European countries imposing fines for non-compliance, as well as “significant restrictions on gathering size.”

11:31 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Dr. Fauci says his Thanksgiving is “going to change significantly this year”

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NPR’s Rachel Martin on Morning Edition Tuesday that his Thanksgiving is going to change significantly this year.

“It’s going to change significantly and that’s one of the things that I tell the American people when I get asked,” Fauci said. “We’ve got to make risk assessment and risk benefit discussions within the family.” 

His three adult daughters, who live in separate parts of the country, got together and said that they did not want to put him, as an elderly person, at risk. Fauci is 79 years old. 

He and his wife will have a meal and Zoom with his daughters to spend time with them.

“I don’t like it that way, but I think they’re making a prudent decision in trying to protect their father and I’m proud of them for that,” he said. 

 

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: