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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10:32 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Fauci says it's OK to celebrate vaccine news — but don't let up on public health measures

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies at a hearing on September 23 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies at a hearing on September 23 in Washington, DC. Alex Edelman/Pool/Getty Images

While it is OK to celebrate news about vaccine efficacy, it’s not a signal to pull back on public health measures, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Tuesday. 

“Yes, it’s OK to celebrate it because from a scientific and potential public health standpoint, this is an extraordinarily important advance,” Fauci told NPR’s Rachel Martin on “Morning Edition.” 

Fauci said he had previously said that he would feel good if there was a vaccine that was 70 to 75% effective, which, combined with public health measures, could have had an impact on the outbreak. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates have a 90% and 94.5% efficacy, respectively.

“94.5% for this and more than 90% for the Pfizer candidate, to me, is a very, very important advance in our armamentarium of trying to stop this outbreak,” he said. 

However, vaccines won’t do it alone.  

“That’s the important point, this should not be a signal to pull back on the public health measures that we must continue to implement,” said Fauci.  

WATCH:

8:52 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

These state measures are taking effect this week

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

A person walks past empty tables at a restaurant and bar in Pullman, Washington, on November 16.
A person walks past empty tables at a restaurant and bar in Pullman, Washington, on November 16. Geoff Crimmins/Moscow-Pullman Daily News/AP

The US has now recorded more than 100,000 daily infections for two weeks straight and on Monday reported more than 166,000 new cases. On the same day, another new high: more than 73,000 Covid-19 hospitalized patients nationwide, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

More state leaders have in the past week announced new restrictions in efforts of helping to slow the spread. Here's a look at some of those measures:

  • Oklahoma: The governor announced that starting Thursday, all tables in restaurants must be at least 6 feet apart and added that bars and restaurants will have to close by 11 p.m. local time. Only restaurant drive-through windows or curbside pickup will be allowed after that.  And starting Tuesday, all 33,000 state employees under the executive branch will be required to wear a mask in common areas or when they're around other people, the governor's office said.
  • California: Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is experiencing the "fastest increase in cases we have seen yet" and announced 28 counties were moving into the most restrictive tier of the state's reopening plan.
  • Washington state: New restrictions went into effect Monday, which limit bars and restaurants to outdoors with capacity limits and to-go service. Indoor social gatherings with people from outside the home are also prohibited under the restrictions, unless participants quarantine for 14 days prior, or quarantine for seven days before the gathering and receive a negative Covid-19 test result no more than 48 hours prior.
  • Oregon: New measures will also take effect in the state on Wednesday, when the state will go into a "Two-Week Freeze." Social gatherings will be limited to no more than six people total from a maximum of two households and restaurants will be limited to delivery and takeout only, among other measures.

These are the states with the highest number of Covid-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University:

10:19 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Group that donates menstrual products is reporting a huge increase in need during the pandemic

From CNN's Nina Avramova

UK charity Bloody Good Period is reporting a surge in the number of menstrual packs they have donated since the beginning of the pandemic.

The charity — which donates packs of menstrual products to refugees, food banks, staff at the UK's National Health Service staff and homeless people — reports that it has given more than 54,000 packs of period products since March.

Usually, BGP donates 2,000 products a month, according to data from the organization. This year, the charity reported surging numbers came in April, May and June.

In April alone, 10,631 packs were distributed. This huge increase is partially because of stockpiling, among other factors.

"Frontline workers were working such long hours that they couldn’t get to shops to buy period products, and if they could get there, they typically found empty shelves as people were stockpiling pads and tampons," the organization's CEO and founder, Gabby Edlin, said in a statement.

BGP has focused its donations on groups that support asylum-seekers and refugees. To date, these groups have received 30% of the overall donations, according to the charity.

BGP is bracing for the situation to worsen, though.

"There’s really no let-up in sight to this increased level of demand — in fact we are planning for demand to continue to increase. As recession bites, more people lose their jobs, and more people are pushed into financial hardship and poverty," Edlin said in the statement. "Periods continue to happen, every month. If people don't have the products they need, they're forced to use alternatives like toilet paper, socks, newspaper, or to not change pads or tampons frequently — all of those options are obviously not appropriate, and can cause infections. Some people have no choice but to use nothing at all."
7:52 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

India's daily cases fall to lowest level since July

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

A health care worker collects a swab sample for a Covid-19 test on October 29 in Mumbai, India.
A health care worker collects a swab sample for a Covid-19 test on October 29 in Mumbai, India. Satish Bate/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Daily coronavirus infections fell in India to their lowest levels since mid-July on Tuesday, with 29,163 cases reported in 24 hours, bringing the total to 8,874,290, the Health Ministry said. 

While the number of cases decline nationwide, the Indian capital region of Delhi is experiencing a third wave and cases are at a "record high," Rajesh Bhushan, secretary for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The government is responding to the surge in infections by increasing hospital beds, including intensive care beds, doubling testing to 100,000 to 120,000 per day, focusing on contact tracing and enforcing containment zones where required, Bhushan added.  

Delhi has nearly 4,000 so-called containment zones, areas identified as hotspots where strict lockdowns have been imposed.

8:34 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Trump's transition sabotage threatens vaccine rollout

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on November 13.
President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on November 13. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's refusal to coordinate with President-elect Joe Biden on the critical Covid-19 vaccine is bringing a staggering possibility into clearer view: that an outgoing US commander in chief is actively working to sabotage his successor.

Trump's denial of his election defeat, his lies about nonexistent mass coordinated voter fraud and his strangling of the rituals of transferring power between administrations are not just democracy-damaging aberrations.

Given the current national emergency, they threaten to cause practical fallout that could damage Biden's incoming White House not just in a political sense. There are increasing concerns that Trump's obstruction will slow and complicate the delivery of the vaccine that brings the tantalizing prospect of a return to normal life amid stunning news from trials showing doses are effective in stopping more than 90% of coronavirus infections.

The distribution operation will be a massively complex and historic public vaccination effort targeting hundreds of millions of Americans -- many millions of whom have resisted following basic safety protocols like wearing masks because Trump has encouraged them not to. The inoculation campaign will require a high level of public trust and will involve sharp ethical debates among officials about who should get the vaccine first. The entire program could be damaged if it is politicized. But unless something changes, the Biden team may face the task of tackling those issues afresh, in a frantic catch-up operation.

Read more of Stephen Collinson's analysis here:

5:57 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

WHO: Moderna vaccine results "quite encouraging," but questions remain

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A patient in Seattle receives an injection on March 16 during a Moderna safety study for a potential coronavirus vaccine.
A patient in Seattle receives an injection on March 16 during a Moderna safety study for a potential coronavirus vaccine. Ted S. Warren/AP

The World Health Organization's chief scientist said Monday that she was encouraged by early results suggesting Moderna's vaccine was nearly 95% effective, but that questions remain.

Of course, we need to wait and see what the final efficacy and the safety profile of this vaccine will be when the whole data is analyzed after they reach their primary endpoint," Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said.

Moderna is the second vaccine in the US to have a stunningly high success rate. BioNTech and Pfizer announced last week that their jointly developed vaccine was more than 90% effective.

One of the major differences between the two vaccines is the temperature at which they must be stored, which will have a big impact on their distribution. Pfizer's vaccine has to be kept at minus 75 degrees Celsius — or about minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Moderna's vaccine can be kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius, which is about minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

5:34 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

German Chancellor Merkel: Coronavirus situation remains "very serious"

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media on November 16 in Berlin.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media on November 16 in Berlin. Andreas Gora/Pool/Getty Images

The coronavirus situation in Germany remains "serious, even very serious," Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday, adding that restricting contact between people was one of the toughest decisions she has had to make in office.

Speaking at an economic forum hosted by the German daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Merkel warned that 2021 was going to be "demanding."

The way out of the crisis is arduous, and it is up to us all (to make it happen)," Merkel said, adding that Germany would succeed with "consideration, perseverance, reason and confidence."

The Chancellor also spoke about the vaccine jointly developed by German company BioNTech and American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which was shown to be more than 90% effective in early data released by the drugmakers last week. Merkel said she was happy to have vaccines that are making progress.

4:17 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

Austria is entering a stricter lockdown today

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

People walk along the Kaerntner Strasse pedestrian shopping zone in Vienna, Austria on November 16, the day before a strict nationwide lockdown came into effect.
People walk along the Kaerntner Strasse pedestrian shopping zone in Vienna, Austria on November 16, the day before a strict nationwide lockdown came into effect. Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images

People in Austria will be banned from leaving their houses apart from a few specific reasons as the country imposes stricter lockdown measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 from Tuesday.

Here's what the restrictions mean:

  • People are only allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons, including going to work, shopping for basic supplies, and going to the doctor.
  • Exercise outside is allowed, according to the Austrian Interior Ministry website. 
  • Basic food shops, pharmacies and banks are staying open, but bars, pubs and restaurants are now closed. 
  • Schools are also shut, and all teaching will be done remotely. 
  • People are being urged to work from home if possible. 

The stricter lockdown measures are scheduled to run until December 6, according to the Interior Ministry.

Austria has reported more than 208,000 coronavirus cases, including 1,887 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

3:46 a.m. ET, November 17, 2020

South Australia places 4,000 people in quarantine to curb new outbreak 

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall speaks to the media during a Covid-19 briefing at the State Administration centre on November 17 in Adelaide, Australia.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall speaks to the media during a Covid-19 briefing at the State Administration centre on November 17 in Adelaide, Australia. David Mariuz/Getty Images

Health authorities in Adelaide, South Australia have ordered 4,000 people into quarantine as the Australian state fights a new coronavirus outbreak.

South Australia reported five new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of the latest cluster to 21. More than 6,000 tests were conducted Tuesday, according to the state's Premier Steven Marshall.

The cases are all considered to be linked to a worker in a medi-hotel, where international arrivals into Adelaide are required to quarantine for 14 days.

The cluster broke South Australia's seven-month run without local transmission.

There are currently 34 active cases in the state, including imported cases.