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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7:14 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

US set another record for new Covid cases in children last week, group says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

There were more than 144,000 new cases of Covid-19 reported among children in the week ending Nov. 19 – marking the highest weekly increase since the pandemic began, according to an update Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Children now account for more than 11% of all confirmed coronavirus cases in the US. There has been a 28% increase in child Covid-19 cases over two weeks.

The AAP said 144,145 new cases among children 17 and under were reported from Nov. 5 to 19. The group, which represents pediatricians, says nearly 1.2 million children have been infected in the US as of Nov. 19. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 12.2 million Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

Severe illness and death from Covid-19 are still rare among children. As of Nov. 19, children represented between 1.2% and 3.1% of total hospitalizations, depending on the state. Between 0.2% and 5.6% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in hospitalizations in states that reported that information, and fewer than 0.14% of all children with Covid-19 died. Seventeen states reported no child deaths.

The count is not complete, because not all states report data the same way. These numbers come from 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. A smaller subset of states report information about hospitalizations and deaths by age.

The AAP says there is an “urgent need” to collect more data on longer-term impacts on children, including the ways in which the virus may hurt children physically and emotionally long-term.

7:13 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations surge in California

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

An unoccupied hospital bed is seen in a Covid-19 unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, California on November 19.
An unoccupied hospital bed is seen in a Covid-19 unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, California on November 19. Jae C. Hong/AP

California continues to see unprecedented spread of the coronavirus with hospitalizations surging 77% and intensive care admissions swelling by 55% over the past two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday.

California added 8,837 new coronavirus cases to start the week, well below the state’s seven-day average of 11,591. New case counts are typically lower on Monday because of reporting lags over the weekend. 

People between the ages of 18-49 account for about 60% of all cases, according to data provided by Newsom, and the 14-day positivity rate stands at 5.8%. About 265,000 tests were conducted in the state on Saturday, higher than the average of 198,000.

California has millions of personal protective equipment supplies at the ready and has 11 surge facilities available which can add nearly 2,000 beds within a matter of a few days, Newsom said.

While calling the latest vaccine news “encouraging,” Newsom cautioned mass vaccinations are not expected in California until next spring or summer.

Instead, Newsom suggested widespread vaccinations will start ramping up in March through July. California has a strong vaccine network already in place and Newsom anticipates the Covid vaccine will be distributed along that same framework.

“Current planning for Phase 1a (is) well on the way,” Newsom said, adding that Phase Two of the vaccine plan will likely come about in January.

Delivering his comments remotely from home where he is quarantining with his family following a recent Covid-19 exposure, Newsom said, “I feel perfectly healthy,” though he seemed to have a somewhat raspy voice, and coughed a couple of times. He quickly acknowledged the coughs and blamed tea getting caught in his throat “and nothing more.”

A California Highway Patrol officer who was infected with Covid-19 had close contact with three of Newsom’s four children, the governor revealed over the weekend. Everyone in the household has been tested, he said. Each has tested negative. Additionally, a classmate of one of the governor’s children has been infected and the school has “paused” its in-person teaching.

“Being quarantined with children is challenging,” Newsom said expressing empathy to those who have found themselves in the same position. Newsom and his family have been officially under quarantine since Sunday.

Note: These numbers were released by the California Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project. 

6:30 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Experts debate whether to vaccinate nursing home residents first against Covid-19

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Experts meeting to decide who should be first in line for any eventual coronavirus vaccine debated Monday whether it would be worthwhile to vaccinate frail residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities first.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices discussed a draft plan for any coronavirus vaccine that would divide the first group to be vaccinated into three subgroups. 

There’s little disagreement that frontline health care workers should be in the first group – 1a. At issue is whether residents of long-term care facilities should be in this group, as well.

There’s no question it’s a highly vulnerable population.

“Long-term care facility residents and staff accounted for 6% of cases and 39% of deaths in the US, despite the fact that long-term care facility residents account for less than 1% of the US population,” the CDC’s Dr. Kathleen Dooling told the meeting.

Plus, it’s a group that would be easier to reach if the staff caring for them are already being immunized in the first phase of any vaccine that might get emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. 

But ACIP member Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot worried that this frail group might do poorly in general and damage faith in the vaccine. 

“There is such a high mortality rate in long-term care facilities,” Talbot told the meeting. “There will be a number of patients who receive immunizations for Covid and will pass away. And it will most likely be regardless of the vaccine,” Talbot said. 

“But early on as we're building confidence, we will not be able to show any data to say that it was not due to the vaccine because there's not been a randomized, controlled trial. And I think we’re going to have a very striking backlash of, ‘My grandmother got the vaccine and she passed away,’ and they're not likely to be related, but that will become remembered and break some of the confidence in the vaccine.”

But others did not think that putting these residents further back in the line would help.

Dr. Paul Hunter of the Milwaukee Health Department said it would be inefficient to vaccinate health care workers in the facilities but skip residents. “Why not vaccinate people that, you know, you've got it all set up and ready to go?” he asked. “It's an efficiency to vaccinate a bunch of people who could benefit from it.”

The ACIP will not make a decision Monday.

6:40 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from Michigan

From CNN's Anna Sturla

A nurse is seen at the Hackley Community Care Covid-19 curbside testing site in Muskegon Heights, Michigan on November 13.
A nurse is seen at the Hackley Community Care Covid-19 curbside testing site in Muskegon Heights, Michigan on November 13. Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press/ AP

Michigan reported 11,511 new Covid-19 cases and 65 deaths since Saturday, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

The state's total case count is now 314,216, with 8,543 deaths.

Michigan set a record for a single-day increase in Covid-19 cases on Friday, with 9,779 cases. That broke a record set only on Nov. 13.

4:19 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Defense Department reviewing plans to distribute vaccines to key military and civilian personnel

From CNN's Barbara Starr

Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist is reviewing a draft plan on how the Defense Department will prioritize the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to key military and civilian personnel according to a defense official. 

Overall vaccination priorities in the military will begin with those that are the most “mission essential,” the official said.

It is expected that military and civilian medical personnel will be among the first to receive the vaccination within the Defense Department. 

An additional top priority will be those in involved in highly unique, high priority specialties such as nuclear weapons and special operations teams.

One complicating factor will be vaccines that require a two-shot dose. Because military personnel often move around, it will have to be decided to what extent any deployments will be halted while the multi-shot regimen is complete the official said.

Also to be decided is at what point new recruits will be vaccinated in order to ensure a steady flow of healthy personnel into the military ranks.

5:23 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Dow climbs more than 300 points as vaccine optimism builds

From CNN’s Matt Egan

The New York Stock Exchange is seen in New York on Monday, November 23.
The New York Stock Exchange is seen in New York on Monday, November 23. Seth Wenig/AP

US stocks finished solidly higher Monday on growing optimism about vaccines that will allow the economy to reopen next year.

Here's how the market did on Monday:

  • The Dow gained 328 points, or 1.1%.
  • The S&P 500 climbed 0.6%.
  • The Nasdaq rose 0.2%. 
  • Small-cap stocks outperformed, with the Russell 2000 soaring about 2%. 

Some more context: The rally comes after AstraZeneca announced its experimental coronavirus vaccine showed an average efficacy rate of 70%. 

Investors also cheered signs that the US economy is withstanding the latest Covid-19 surge. A new survey released Monday indicates US business activity grew at the fastest pace in more than five years, led by an acceleration in manufacturing.  

Oil-and-gas stocks rose sharply, with the energy sector surging 7%. Occidental Petroleum, Apache and Diamondback Energy all rallied double-digit percentages.

4:19 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Pennsylvania will suspend sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants on the night before Thanksgiving 

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

Holly Yoder pours a beer for a customer at the Sly Fox Taphouse in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, in July.
Holly Yoder pours a beer for a customer at the Sly Fox Taphouse in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, in July. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty Images

Pennsylvania will suspend the sale of alcohol at restaurants and bars the night before Thanksgiving, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced on Monday.

The suspension will be in effect from 5 p.m. ET Nov. 25 until 8 a.m. ET Nov. 26 , Levine said.

“It turns out that the biggest day for drinking is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “When people get together in that situation, it leads to an increase in the exchange of fluids, that leads to an increase in infection.”

The state reported that there were 7,075 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, and 4,762 on Sunday, with 41 and 28 deaths respectively.

There are 3,379 Pennsylvanians hospitalized with coronavirus, with 775 of those in intensive care units. The state's seven-day positivity rate from Nov. 13 through Nov. 19 was 11.1 percent, according to Levine.

"Transmission of Covid-19 is reaching new heights that we have not yet encountered," Levine said.

Levine and Wolf also announced a new stay-at-home advisory for residents starting Monday, though they took pains to clarify that it was a not a not shut-down order.

Indoor dining remains at 25 to 50%, while retail can continue at 75%, Levine said. Gyms, salons and other personal care businesses can continue to operate at 50%.

Beginning Nov. 27, businesses must allow employees to work from home. Large gatherings are reduced, with prohibitions against events with more than 500 people indoors or 2,500 outdoors, according to Levine.

3:30 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Here are the latest Covid-19 updates from Midwest states

Staff were on hand to guide and help people through the new saliva COVID-19 testing site at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on November 12.
Staff were on hand to guide and help people through the new saliva COVID-19 testing site at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on November 12. Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP

New Covid-19 cases are spiking across most of the US. Here are the latest updates from some of the states in the midwest.

Illinois

  • Illinois is reporting 8,322 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the state's total to 664,620. 
  • The Illinois Department of Health says that there are 47 new deaths reported on Monday, with 11,552 total deaths since the start of the pandemic. 
  • The state's 7-day positivity rate is at 10.9%, according to the latest release from IDPH. 
  • There are 6,171 patients hospitalized with 1,206 of those in ICU, IDPH says.

Kansas

  • Kansas is reporting over 7,500 new Covid-19 cases since Friday, according to the latest numbers released by the state's health department. 
  • The 7,526 new cases bring the state's total to 142,059 with 1,456 total deaths. 
  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reporting 95 new hospitalizations since Friday afternoon, with a total of 896 patients hospitalized with the virus. KDHE shows that 36% of the state's ICU beds are currently available.
  • The positivity rate for the month of November is 19%, according to the state's dashboard.

Minnesota

  • The state health department is reporting 6,353 new cases today, bringing the total to 276,500. There are 1,778 patients hospitalized with the virus, 364 of those in ICUs across Minnesota. 
  • The 7-day positivity rate is 15.2% the health department says. 
  • Minnesota Governor Tim Walz today announced a new app, COVIDaware Minnesota, to help identify if you've been around someone who has tested positive for the virus.
  • In a press conference announcing the new app, Walz said that if you have the app and test positive, you'll input the code and it will notify everyone who was within a 6-feet radius for 15 minutes or more that they have been exposed. Walz said that there is no data tracking, and no data is sent to the Minnesota Department of Health or to Google or Apple. 
  • Walz said that Minnesota is the 20th state to utilize this technology and he hopes as many Minnesotans as possible will download it. 

One thing to note: These numbers were released by the states' public health agencies and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project. 

2:32 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Regeneron monoclonal antibody therapy ready to go out to patients Tuesday, Azar says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Regeneron scientists work on an antibody therapy at a facility in New York on October 2.
Regeneron scientists work on an antibody therapy at a facility in New York on October 2. Regeneron/AP

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that distribution of Regeneron’s Covid-19 antibody therapy will begin Tuesday.

The therapy has been given an emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration to be used in patients age 12 and older who have a mild to moderate case of Covid-19 and who are at a high risk of progressing to a more severe form of the disease.

President Donald Trump received the therapy, called REGEN-COV2, when he was hospitalized for coronavirus. The treatment has to be infused into the bloodstream and is meant to mimic an immune response to infection.

Azar said there will be 30,000 doses of the Regeneron treatment ready to go out Tuesday, with more to come in the next few weeks.

Americans won’t be charged for the drug itself, Azar said. HHS is working with payers to cover the cost of the administration of the drug.

Azar also called the emergency use authorization of Regeneron’s treatment “incredibly exciting news.”

 “We have been, and will be, working with states and other partners to get the word out. If you have tested positive for Covid-19, or they are at high risk for severe disease, we have treatment options that may be able to help you,” Azar said in a news briefing Monday. “It's vital that Americans be aware of these expanding options.”

There is also an Eli Lilly antibody treatment being used under an emergency use authorization that helps patients with mild to moderate forms of Covid-19. In the last two weeks, more than 85,000 patient courses of the Lilly product have been delivered to more than 2,400 sites around the country, Azar said.

Azar added that while there has been good news about vaccines and antibody treatments lately, Americans still need to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Encouraging news about vaccines and therapeutics should be all the more reason for Americans to double down on the measures like masks, hand washing and social distancing, that we need to beat this pandemic,” Azar said.

He also encouraged those who are within three months of recovery from Covid-19 to donate their plasma to provide convalescent plasma treatments to Covid-19 patients.