November 21 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT) November 23, 2020
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3:59 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic in the US as the country hits 12 million cases

The coronavirus pandemic

As coronavirus cases rise across much of the US, an expert says the virus is spreading "faster" than ever before. The US surpassed 12 million coronavirus cases Saturday — an increase of more than 1 million cases in less than a week.

Here's the latest on the pandemic across the US:

  • Surging cases across the US: On Friday, more than 195,500 new infections were reported — the country's highest for a single day, and far beyond what the nation was seeing just weeks ago. The highest number of single-day cases during the country's summer surge was a little more than 77,100 in July, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
  • Long lines at food banks: With less than a week until Thanksgiving, the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is forcing some Americans to go to food banks for the first time. At a food drive in DeKalb County, Georgia, people lined up at 5:30 a.m. ET today for an event that was not supposed to start until 10 a.m., CNN’s Natasha Chen reported. Meanwhile, at the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles, volunteers are working to ensure residents do not go hungry this Thanksgiving. They expected about 1,000 people to line up today. If you are facing food insecurity today, learn how to get help here.
  • About Thanksgiving travel this year: The CDC  this week urged against Thanksgiving holiday travel. The nation's top health experts are urging Americans to alter their holiday plans this year, too: White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Americans should limit indoor gatherings to immediate households this Thanksgiving. And Dr. Anthony Fauci said he'll be having a Thanksgiving Zoom call with his three daughters.
  • The good news? Experts say promising vaccines are on the horizon. On Friday, Pfizer and BioNTech submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Earlier this week, Pfizer said a final analysis of the Phase 3 trial of the vaccine showed it was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns.
3:51 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

US surpasses 12 million coronavirus cases

From CNN's Amanda Watts and Hollie Silverman

There have been at least 12,019,960 cases of coronavirus in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

The US has added about 2 million new coronavirus cases in the past 12 days.

Johns Hopkins recorded the first case of coronavirus in the United States on January 21. After that...

  • 98 days later, on April 28, the US hit 1 million cases 
  • 44 days later, on June 11, the US hit 2 million cases 
  • 27 days later, on July 8, the US hit 3 million cases 
  • 15 days later, on July 23, the US hit 4 million cases 
  • 17 days later, on August 9, the US hit 5 million cases 
  • 22 days later, on August 31, the US hit 6 million cases 
  • 25 days later, on September 25, the US hit 7 million cases 
  • 21 days later on October 16, the US hit 8 million cases 
  • 14 days later, on October 30, the US hit 9 million cases 
  • 10 days later, on November 9, the US hit 10 million cases 
  • 6 days later, on November 15, the US hit 11 million cases
  • 6 days later on November 21, the US hit 12 million cases

At least 255,414 people have died in the United States from coronavirus since the pandemic began.

3:41 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

World Health Organization head urges G20 leaders to allocate coronavirus vaccines fairly 

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas


World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged world leaders to allocate coronavirus vaccines fairly today during a virtual G20 summit.

“Fair allocation of vaccines is central to the pandemic endgame, and a faster global recovery,” Tedros said in a copy of his opening remarks, released by WHO.

Tedros said there is a need for an immediate investment of $4.5 billion for vaccines.

The Group of 20, or G20, summit is a gathering of world leaders to discuss international issues.

Tedros noted that the G20 — which represents two-thirds of the world’s population and 80% of the global economy — will play a vital role in not only ending the coronavirus pandemic, but preventing future pandemics.

“To prevent future outbreaks and their impact on lives, livelihoods and economies, all countries must invest in preparedness and universal health coverage,” he said.


3:32 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

If you have to fly this Thanksgiving, here's how to reduce your risk

Travelers walk through Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, on November 21.
Travelers walk through Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, on November 21. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and prevention has urged against Thanksgiving holiday travel this year as coronavirus cases continue to climb across the US.

But what if — despite your best efforts to avoid air travel — it does become a necessity to fly?

Here are experts tips on how to reduce your risk of catching Covid-19 along your journey:

  • Plan your transportation to the airport: If you have to take an Uber, Lyft or taxi to the airport, make sure you, your family and the driver are all masked throughout the journey — and be sure to roll down the windows to encourage air flow, according to Joseph Allen, who directs the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. said. You can also drive yourself and the people in your "pod" to the airport and leave the car parked. Even then, Allen said, roll down the windows.
  • Wear a proper mask, the proper way, for the entire journey: Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose throughout your flight and stay seated as much as possible. "You want to have a minimum two-ply mask, preferably a three-ply mask," said Allen, who has focused his career on "sick buildings" and how they affect worker performance and productivity.
  • Consider a face shield: If you're high risk, you might consider adding a face shield over the face mask, said Dr. Henry Wu, an associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.  "We don't quite have the data yet to say how much additional protection it offers," Wu said, "but it may have some additive value, particularly in terms of larger respiratory droplets directly getting into your eyes." But don't rely on a shield alone, Wu cautioned: "Wearing a face shield does not negate the need to wear a face mask."
  • Carry the essentials: Along with that highly protective mask, you should definitely bring disinfecting wipes and a 3-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol. That's the level needed to kill most coronaviruses, according to the CDC.
  • Stay in your seat if you can: Getting up and moving around puts you closer to others on the plane, and visiting the bathroom opens up a whole new set of potentially germy things to touch. Try to prepare for that in advance, Henry Wu, an associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta said, by "having your meals before the flight and doing your bathroom breaks on the layovers."
  • Quarantine upon arrival — both ways: "Don't rely on a negative test on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and think that clears you to be with your family," pediatrician Dr. David Rubin said. "Quarantining for a week and a half when you arrive is your best way to assure that you're likely to be negative."

Read more about flying during a pandemic here.

3:08 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

California reports record number of new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row

from CNN's Hollie Silverman and Cheri Mossburg


A medical worker places test tubes into a cardboard box at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in San Francisco, California, on November 19.
A medical worker places test tubes into a cardboard box at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in San Francisco, California, on November 19. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The California Department of Public Health announced 15,442 new Covid-19 cases in a press release Saturday.

This marks a record high in newly reported cases in the state, shattering Friday's highest case count of 13,005. The previous high was reported in July with 12,807 new cases. 

There have now been a total of 1,087,714 confirmed cases in California, the release said. 

The seven-day positivity rate is 6.1% and the 14-day positivity rate is 5.4%, according to the release.


2:24 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

How to say "no" to a Thanksgiving invite because of Covid-19, according to etiquette experts

From CNN's Matt Villano

With Thanksgiving just days away, coronavirus cases are continuing to rise in many parts of the US.

Health experts have urged Americans to alter their holiday plans this year, encouraging people to celebrate with just those in their own households or host socially distant gatherings outdoors.

But if you need to decline a Thanksgiving invite, etiquette experts have some advice: They said it's a good idea to express your choice as a personal one.

Using "I statements," or statements that start with the first-person pronoun, make clear to loved ones that your decision has nothing to do with them, said Kianga Kelley-Crowley, founder and owner of Simply a Lady, an etiquette and communications consulting company in Wichita, Kansas.

"It's all right to say, 'I prefer not to get together with everyone,' or 'I'm sorry but we're not going to be able to attend this year,'" she said. "Take responsibility for your decision. Own it. Speak the truth to your family members. It's perfectly acceptable to say you're focusing on your own safety and would rather stay home."

Lisa Mirza Grotts, who calls herself the "Golden Rules Gal," added that her buzzword of the season is risk.

The etiquette expert said she has focused on explaining her decisions only in terms of potential danger — nothing else. This approach has made it easier for her to communicate unpleasant news, she noted. 

"When you share your feelings in the context of risk — 'I don't want to be a virus spreader and put others at risk' — the sentiment is very straightforward," said Grotts, who is based in San Francisco. "This is one of the easiest outs there ever will be. It's not about you. It's about others and what you can do to them."

1:51 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

How US medical experts are spending Thanksgiving during the pandemic

As Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, some doctors shared what they're planning for the holiday.

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 will be "significantly" different this year than previous holidays.

His three adult daughters — who live in separate parts of the country — 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. 

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta also said he won't be visiting family this year.

"I have three daughters, and with my elderly parents living in a different state, this is usually the time of year when we get to see each other," he wrote in an article explaining why he's staying home. "But this holiday season, our interactions will be on screens -- with promises and hopes that next year will be different."

And CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen — who has urged Americans to skip indoor gatherings, but said it's possible to visit family by socializing outdoors — described how she has hosted outdoor get-togethers.

"I like to have a big table in the middle, where I put all the drinks and plates," she said. "I also have chairs set up so that every household is spaced at least 6 feet apart. I'll pour drinks and then have people come up, individually, to pick them up. Food should be plated separately; no buffets or people reaching into a common bowl. We won't share food or drinks."

1:20 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

The US is approaching 12 million coronavirus cases

From CNN's Hollie Silverman        

According to Johns Hopkins University's latest tally, there have been at least 11,963,509 cases of coronavirus in the US since the pandemic began. At least 254,897 people have died in the US from coronavirus.        

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

As of 1 p.m. ET today, 52,651 new cases and 484 new deaths have been reported in the US since midnight. 

1:15 p.m. ET, November 21, 2020

This New Jersey city is asking residents to shelter in place for 10 days around Thanksgiving

Police officers remind a woman on November 12 in the doorway of a Newark, New Jersey, restaurant of the new curfew and dining regulations in an area where coronavirus cases have recently spiked.
Police officers remind a woman on November 12 in the doorway of a Newark, New Jersey, restaurant of the new curfew and dining regulations in an area where coronavirus cases have recently spiked. Seth Wenig/AP

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is asking the residents of the New Jersey city to shelter in place for 10 days to help combat the spread of Covid-19, according to a video posted on the mayor’s Facebook page. 

The shelter in place would begin the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and end Dec. 4, the mayor said. 

“We want people to shelter in place for 10 days,” the mayor said, adding that people are urged to come out only for essential purposes.  

“Do not go outside if you don’t have to,” Baraka added. 

At this time, Baraka has not issued an executive order or a stay-at-home advisory. CNN has reached out to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s office for comment. 

The mayor's request for residents to stay home is the latest coronavirus-related measure the city has taken. In October, Newark issued a curfew for all non-essential businesses.