November 22 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Jenni Marsh, Rob Picheta, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020
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9:31 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

More than 1 million Americans traveled by air on Friday ahead of Thanksgiving

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, more than 1 million passengers traveled through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at US airports on Friday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

This is only the second time during the pandemic that the US saw that high passenger volume. The TSA topped 1 million passenger screenings at the end of the long Columbus Day weekend.

Here's a look at the numbers this weekend:

  • On Friday, 1,019,836 passengers went through TSA checkpoints across the US. 
  • On Saturday, 984,369 passengers went through TSA checkpoints across the US. That’s the third most passengers since the beginning of the pandemic.  

March 16 was the last day going into the pandemic that the US routinely had 1 million passenger days, according to the TSA. On March 16, 1,257,823 passengers traveled through TSA checkpoints. The following day, March 17, that number dropped below a million passengers with 953,699 passengers.

9:40 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

Here's the White House vaccine czar's message to Americans concerned about getting a vaccine

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the head of the White House's coronavirus vaccine effort, said he hopes that the high efficacy rates of the vaccine candidates will encourage those who may we have concerns about vaccines to get one.

"I think people have misunderstood the level of efficacy that the FDA aimed for, which was to say, at least 50% efficacy. Maybe people thought that was the efficacy of the vaccine," he told CNN this morning. "It's 95%. It's almost a full insurance against this pandemic. I think and I hope that's gonna change people's perception."

He added that it's "very unfortunate" that the vaccine development process has become political.

"I really think it's very unfortunate that the whole process has been politicized and, therefore, the context has created conditions whereby people's perception has been exacerbated and we are where we are today," he said.

He added that the vaccines are safe for Americans.

"We know it's safe over a short period of time. And we can project that it's going to be safe over the longer time and we will measure that," he said.
9:23 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

White House vaccine czar says he expects children could receive a vaccine by mid-2021

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the White House vaccine czar, told CNN's Jake Tapper today that he expects children will be able to receive the coronavirus vaccine some time in the middle of next year.

Slaoui, who is the head of the US government's efforts to develop a vaccine, said at this point the lowest age that children have received a vaccine during the trials has been 12- to 14-year-olds in the Pfizer trials.

"I don't know whether the FDA will approve the vaccine for use down to that age. Maybe they will stop at 18 years of age and above," he said.

Slaoui said that the government is planning to run clinical trials into younger adolescents, and then toddlers and infants on "an expedited basis" in the coming months.

He said that he expects by May 2021 that " toddlers, 4, 5 years old and down to 12 months old" could receive a vaccines, adding that first, "we need to run those clinical trials on an expedited basis." 

9:20 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

US vaccine chief says first Americans could be vaccinated on Dec. 11

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the head of the government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said the first Americans to receive a coronavirus vaccine could get it as soon as Dec. 11.

On Friday, Pfizer submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, and an FDA vaccine advisory committee is slated to meet December 10.

Slaoui said that means, if approved, the vaccine could be rolled out the next day.

"Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December," he told CNN Sunday morning.

Remember: Experts have said that initially there won't be enough vaccine for everyone. The highest-priority groups, which include health care workers, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, will get the vaccine first.

9:23 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

Pence campaigned with a GOP senator who tested positive. He's now waiting for a "confirmatory test."

From CNN's Daniella Diaz,  Kevin Liptak and Alison Main

Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kelly Loeffler wave to the crowd during a campaign rally in Canton, Georgia, on November 20.
Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kelly Loeffler wave to the crowd during a campaign rally in Canton, Georgia, on November 20. Ben Gray/AP

Vice President Mike Pence is waiting for Sen. Kelly Loeffler's "confirmatory test” whether it is confirmed the Georgia Republican is positive for Covid-19,  according to Pence’s spokesperson. 

“As he awaits a confirmatory test from Senator Loeffler, Vice President Pence is in regular consultation with the White House Medical Unit and will be following CDC guidelines as he has in other circumstances when he has been a close contact," Devin O'Malley told CNN in a statement.

Pence campaigned alongside Loeffler Friday in Georgia in her runoff campaign to keep her Senate seat. Neither were wearing masks.

The Republican senator tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, but a subsequent test came back as inconclusive on Saturday evening, according to campaign spokesperson Stephen Lawson. 

Pence is tested every day for coronavirus.

Following a coronavirus outbreak among his staff ahead of the election, Pence continued to travel and campaign, citing US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for "essential workers” which his staff said he was.

8:25 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

The US is seeing an unprecedented coronavirus resurgence as Americans prepare for Thanksgiving

We're just four days away from Thanksgiving, and coronavirus cases are rising across the country.

The US surpassed 12 million cases of the virus yesterday — and nearly a quarter of those cases were recorded in November.

As Americans begin to prepare for the holiday, here's the latest on the pandemic:

  • Staggering Covid-19 numbers: Saturday was the 19th day in a row that the US reported over 100,000 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins. The spring and summer peak records of new cases did not exceed 60,000.
  • 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 yesterday 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. If you are facing food insecurity today, learn how to get help here.
  • Experts urge Americans to skip travel this holiday: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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.
7:48 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

UK PM Johnson will on Monday set out plan to exit national lockdown, Chancellor confirms

From CNN's Nada Bashir in London and Radina Gigova in Atlanta

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Monday set out the government’s plan for England to exit its second national lockdown on December 2, outlining what is expected to be a “strengthened” tier system for the country, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said Sunday.  

“The Prime Minister will be setting out more details tomorrow about the next steps and our fight against coronavirus,” Sunak told Sky News. 

“The good news is, we will be exiting national restrictions on the 2nd of December, as the Prime Minister said at the beginning of the month-long restrictions,” he added. 

According to the Chancellor, the Prime Minister is expected to chair a cabinet meeting on Sunday afternoon to “discuss the details for re-entering the tier system” in England.  

“We’ll be going back into a tiered system, which is a far better way to tackle this on a localized approach,” Sunak continued. 

While the Chancellor declined to comment on whether a 10 p.m. curfew on the hospitality sector would be extended, a government source said Sunday that the curfew would be extended by one hour to 11 p.m. as part of the government’s plan to exit the nationwide lockdown. 

On Monday, the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is also expected to publish documents showing that previous tier restrictions were ineffective, the source added.

It comes just a week after Public Health England’s Dr. Susan Hopkins said the government would need to consider “strengthening” the tier system until an effective vaccine becomes widely available in the UK. 

“We have recognized that the tiering of the country has had a different effect in each area,” the UK medical adviser said Monday. 

“We see very little effect from Tier 1 and I think when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months,” she added. 

7:14 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

Hong Kong reports 68 new coronavirus cases, the highest increase since August 

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A health worker in protective gown checks the temperatures of visitors entering a community testing center in Hong Kong, on November 21.
A health worker in protective gown checks the temperatures of visitors entering a community testing center in Hong Kong, on November 21. Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Hong Kong reported 68 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, marking the highest single-day increase in cases since August 16. 

Of the 68 new cases, seven were imported while 61 were locally transmitted, according to Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection. Among the 61 local cases, 49 are connected to previously confirmed cases, and the source of infection for the remaining 12 cases could not be traced. 

“The situation is very difficult to control,” said Dr. Chuang, who cited asymptomatic cases who continued their daily routine without knowing they had the virus.

Earlier on Sunday, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said that “we are now facing a very severe situation in Hong Kong, the number of unlinked cases has been increasing in the past few days.” Chan added that health officials are now testing more people to deal with the recent outbreak.

On Saturday, a much-anticipated quarantine free travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong was postponed for two weeks due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong.

The 71 new cases bring the city-wide number of cases to 5,629, while the number of deaths remains at 108.

6:27 a.m. ET, November 22, 2020

South Korea reports over 300 new coronavirus cases for third day in a row

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul

South Korea reported 330 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 30,733, according to Korea's Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Among them, 302 were locally transmitted. The death toll rose by two to 505.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo announced at a briefing on Sunday the government’s decision to raise social distancing measures to level 2 in the Seoul Metropolitan area for two weeks, starting November 24.

For a third day in a row, more than 300 local transmissions have been reported daily -- with 200 from the Seoul metropolitan area.

Under level 2, mask wearing is mandatory in all indoor facilities, entertainment facilities like clubs are prohibited, restaurants can only do deliveries and takeouts after 9 p.m., gatherings will be limited to less than 100 people, and schools have to operate at one-third capacity.

Park warned that Korea is in a risky situation where a much larger mass infection could take place than in the first and second waves.