November 23 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020
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12:53 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Florida's new cases per week have tripled since Gov. DeSantis reopened the state

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign rally for President Donald Trump at Pensacola International Airport in Pensacola, Florida, on October 23.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign rally for President Donald Trump at Pensacola International Airport in Pensacola, Florida, on October 23. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The number of new Covid-19 cases per week has tripled in Florida since Gov. Ron DeSantis reopened the state in one swoop in late September.

  • The week before Florida reopened, the state reported more than 17,000 new cases.
  • In the past seven days, Florida has recorded more than 53,000 new cases.

That means three times more Floridians per week are testing positive for Covid-19 now, than the week the state was reopened.

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, a bipartisan group of mayors from across the state asked DeSantis last week to issue a mask mandate, bolster contact tracing, increase funding for Covid-19 testing, and give mayors more local control. 

DeSantis issued a video message last week sharing “promising news” about therapeutics and vaccines -- but he didn't address the rise in cases.

12:39 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

A Chinese city found a handful of new cases Friday. Now it's testing 2.6 million residents for the virus

From journalist Eric Cheung in Hong Kong 

The Chinese city of Tianjin has launched a mass testing program that will test 2.6 million residents in just a few days after five locally transmitted cases were reported on Friday.

Four of the five new cases were reported in the same residential compound in Binhai New Area district, located in the eastern part of the city, the city's health commission said in a statement.

The mass testing, which started on Saturday, will cover all residents living in the district, it added. The testing was expected to be completed in three days. 

As of Sunday evening, Tianjin had received more than 2.25 million test samples, of which over 1 million have come back negative, the health commission said. 

Tianjin, a major port on China's northeastern coast, is home to more than 13 million people.

12:16 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Regeneron CEO explains why Trump got antibody treatment

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Len Schleifer, president and CEO of Regeneron, speaks during a hearing in Albany, New York, on October 20, 2015.
Dr. Len Schleifer, president and CEO of Regeneron, speaks during a hearing in Albany, New York, on October 20, 2015. Mike Groll/AP

Dr. Len Schleifer, the president and CEO of drugmaker Regeneron, explained the company’s decision to let President Donald Trump use their antibody cocktail.

When Trump contracted Covid-19 in early October, Regeneron granted him compassionate use for their treatment, REGEN-COV2.

It was still an experimental treatment; human clinical trails began in June, and the first encouraging data from patients came just three days before Trump announced he had Covid-19.

“When we received the request from the President’s physicians for access to REGEN-COV2, we weighed it carefully against our established criteria for Compassionate Use, an FDA pathway that, by design, is meant for exceptional circumstances, "Schleifer wrote in an open letter on Saturday.
"Given the unique national security considerations of the Presidency, which preclude participation in a clinical trial, we granted the request."

While they knew it would bring unprecedented scrutiny on the company, Schleifer said, “Frankly, that’s not the kind of calculation we do in these moments. Rather we considered if it was the right thing to do for the patient and if it adhered to our policies and ethical standards. In this case, it was, and it did.”

REGEN-COV2 was granted an emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration on Saturday.

12:00 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Japan reports more than 2,000 new Covid cases for fifth consecutive day

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Japan recorded 2,162 new coronavirus cases and seven new deaths on Sunday, according to the Health Ministry -- the fifth day in a row that the country has recorded more than 2,000 new infections.

The spike brings the nationwide total of cases to 133,070 and the death toll to 1,994.

Osaka cases surge: The major port city set a new daily infection record with 490 new cases recorded on Sunday. Osaka raised its alert level on Friday and requested residents refrain from dining out with a group of five or more people for periods longer than two hours. The prefectural government also asked elderly residents to avoid non-essential outings.

Cases are also rising in Tokyo: Japan's capital city recorded 391 cases on Sunday, marking the fifth day in a row of more than 300 daily cases. The total number of infections reported in Tokyo now stands at 37,708.

11:39 p.m. ET, November 22, 2020

Los Angeles County to shut down outdoor dining amid infection surge

From CNN's Jenn Selva in Los Angeles

Customers dine in the Hollywood Riviera area of Redondo Beach, California, on November 15.
Customers dine in the Hollywood Riviera area of Redondo Beach, California, on November 15. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Outdoor dining in Los Angeles County will be shut down as the five-day average of new Covid-19 infections has passed 4,000 daily cases, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The order, which will go into effect on Wednesday November 25 at 10 p.m., also includes dining at breweries, wineries, and bars.

“To reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures for people in settings which are not wearing their face coverings, restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer take out, drive through and delivery services,” the release said.

The five-day average of new cases is at 4,097. If the five-day average number reaches 4,500 or hospitalizations reach 2,000 a Targeted Stay at Home Order will be issued for three weeks, according to the release.

There are currently 1,401 people hospitalized with the disease in the county, with 26% of those in the ICU, the release said.

11:42 p.m. ET, November 22, 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson to announce expanded Covid-19 testing program

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves number 10, Downing Street as he heads to the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Foreign Office on November 10, 2020 in London, England.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves number 10, Downing Street as he heads to the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Foreign Office on November 10, 2020 in London, England. Leon Neal/Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday is expected to announce an “extensive community testing” program for regions living under the “very high alert” top tier of Covid restrictions, as well as offering testing support from the National Health Service (NHS) and the armed forces.

The government’s Covid Winter Plan will employ repeated testing of contacts so that they can avoid the need to isolate after having contact with a positive individual, according to a Downing Street news release.

The release said the program of “repeated testing of contacts instead of isolation” will be trialed in Liverpool starting next week and then expanded across the NHS and care homes in December before being rolled out to the general population in January.

The expanded availability of testing under the Covid Winter Plan will allow care home residents to see two visitors twice a week, the release said.

Johnson, according to the release, is expected to say the "selflessness" of people who are following best practices such as mask usage is making a difference, but he will warn: "We are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still present in communities across the country, and remains both far more infectious and far more deadly than seasonal flu."

Johnson will announce that testing will be expanded to catch asymptomatic individuals who can still spread the virus and that weekly testing will be available for employees in food manufacturing, prison staff, and workers delivering and administering Covid vaccines. 

9:57 p.m. ET, November 22, 2020

The US has recorded more than 3 million new Covid-19 infections in November

From CNN's Holly Yan and Madeline Holcombe

Vehicles line up as a health care workers help to check in people being tested at the Covid-19 drive-thru testing center at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on November 22.
Vehicles line up as a health care workers help to check in people being tested at the Covid-19 drive-thru testing center at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on November 22. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

November isn't even over, and the US has already seen more new Covid-19 cases than any other month of this entire pandemic.

More than 3 million new cases were reported between November 1 and 22, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That's about a quarter of all US cases since the beginning of this pandemic.

Yes, testing has increased. But it hasn't kept pace with the rate of new infections.

As of late last week, the number of daily new cases increased 25% compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins data.

But the number of new tests increased only 14.55%, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

And in 44 states, the percentage of positive tests is higher than the recommended 5% threshold.

"If a positivity rate is too high, that may indicate that the state is only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities," Johns Hopkins said.

And every surge in new cases leads to more hospitalizations and deaths in the following weeks.

Read the full story:

9:57 p.m. ET, November 22, 2020

White House vaccine chief says first Americans could be vaccinated next month

From CNN's Naomi Thomas and Rachel Janfaza

President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 15.
President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 15. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine -- if all things go according to plan -- could be as early as the second week of December.

"Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe on day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the State Departments of Health will have told us where to deliver the vaccine," Slaoui told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" Sunday.

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

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

Slaoui also said that based on plans, the amount of the population who need to be vaccinated for life to return to normal is likely to happen in May.

How to achieve herd immunity: Slaoui told Tapper that with the level of efficacy that has been shown in both Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines, "70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place, that is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May, or something like that based on our plans."

Following Slaoui's comments on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told CBS' Margaret Brennan on "Face The Nation," that while he "totally agree(s)" with Slaoui that there could be herd immunity by May, it would require that a majority of the country be vaccinated.

"If you have a highly efficacious vaccine, and only a relatively small 40, 50% of the people get vaccinated, you're not going to get the herd immunity you need," Fauci said. "What we do need is we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated."

A new Gallup poll found that 58% of Americans said they would get vaccinated against the coronavirus if there was an FDA-approved vaccine available right now at no cost.

Read the full story:

9:30 p.m. ET, November 22, 2020

Millions traveling for Thanksgiving despite surging Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Marnie Hunter

A traveler approaches the AirTrain to JKF International Airport in New York, on November 20.
A traveler approaches the AirTrain to JKF International Airport in New York, on November 20. Frank Franklin II/AP

Thanksgiving travel is surging as new coronavirus cases approach 200,000 a day in the United States.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance on Thursday urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving. But millions of people are still planning to travel over the holiday week.

On Friday, the number of travelers screened at US airport security checkpoints topped 1 million for only the second time since March, according to Transportation Security Administration figures. That's still just 40% of the volume screened on the Friday before Thanksgiving a year ago.

Many weary Americans eager to join family and friends for Thanksgiving face another risk calculation as they weigh scrapping travel plans at the last minute or going ahead as Covid-19 cases surge.

Gail Duilio, a retired public health nurse in Portland, Oregon, has canceled her flight to Minnesota for the holiday and her mother's 93rd birthday.

"When making the arrangements a month ago, I felt the risks vs. benefits weighed on the side of going," she told CNN. This week, the risks tipped the scales in the other direction for her.

Travel organization AAA has said that it expects at least a 10% drop in travel this Thanksgiving because of spiking coronavirus cases, shifting travel restrictions and calls by health and government officials for people to stay home.

AAA forecasts nearly 48 million travelers will drive to their destinations -- representing a 4.3% drop from last year in the number of people traveling by car over the holiday period, which AAA defines as Wednesday to Sunday.

Air travel is expected to see its largest one-year decrease on record for Thanksgiving, a nearly 48% drop, with just 2.4 million travelers expected to fly, according to the organization.

Read the full story: