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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11:16 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

The US could have 20 million coronavirus cases by Inauguration Day, new model predicts

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

The number of Covid-19 cases in the United States could reach 20 million by Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, according to a new coronavirus modeling forecast from Washington University in St. Louis.

The model, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports on Monday, looked at coronavirus case numbers and mobility data.

“We forecast rates of new cases for Covid-19 under different social distancing norms and find that if social distancing is eliminated, there will be a massive increase in the cases of Covid-19,” the team wrote.

The model projected that if current social distancing measures are at a 60% return to normalcy compared to pre-pandemic levels, the US will likely reach 20 million cases before the end of January.

The importance of social distancing: Greater social distancing efforts could reduce the number of new cases even further, although the efforts vary widely across the country, the researchers noted.

“Even small increases in social distancing can have a large effect on the number of cases we observe in the next two and a half months,” model co-developer Raphael Thomadsen said in a statement. “Going back to a 50% return to normalcy, which was the average level of distancing in early August, would likely result in 5 million fewer cases by the end of January. 

If the US returned to the level of social distancing in April, Thomadsen predicted the spread of Covid-19 could be “effectively squashed.”

But this is probably a conservative estimate, the team said, because their model assumes only 10% of coronavirus cases are ever diagnosed.

“However, more recently, testing has increased, and probably more like 25% of cases are diagnosed,” model co-developer Song Yao said in a statement. “In that case, total COVID cases would increase beyond 20 million in the next few months unless we, as a society, engage in more social distancing.”

The researchers also predicted the holiday season will create “a great deal of uncertainty” in the model because people will travel more at the end of the year.  

10:44 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Fauci disagrees with "well-meaning governors" who plan on state-level assessment of vaccines

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Source: PBS Newshour

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday he disagrees with “well-meaning governors” who plan on performing state-level safety reviews of coronavirus vaccines after they are authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that New York health officials will review a coronavirus vaccine after it is approved by the FDA to ensure its safety.

Fauci told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff he understands that governors want to protect their citizens, but with the mixed signals coming out of Washington, they’re missing something important about the vaccine approval process. 

“The process of the decision of whether or not a vaccine is safe and effective -- that is made by a completely independent group, not by the federal government, not by the company,” said Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“It's made by an independent group of scientists, vaccinologists, ethicists, statisticians,” he added. 

Fauci said he wants everyone to understand there is no political pressure affecting the vaccine approval process.

“I hope that they would then realize that that's good enough,” he said.

Fauci added that if everything goes well, vaccinations will likely begin in December and the US will be able to start vaccinating the broader population “in earnest” in April and May.  

10:18 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Los Angeles County hits new high in Covid-19 cases, setting stage for new stay home order

From CNN’s Alexandra Meeks

This aerial view shows people waiting in line in their cars at a Covid-19 testing site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, Nov. 18.
This aerial view shows people waiting in line in their cars at a Covid-19 testing site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, Nov. 18. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles County reported 6,124 new Covid-19 cases Monday, its highest single-day jump in infections since the start of the pandemic. 

“Los Angeles is on a very dangerous path,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a news conference on Monday, adding that the county is projected to reach 1 million cases by the end of this year.

Hospitalizations have increased more than 50% in just one week, according to Garcetti. “At this rate, our hospitals won’t have any spare beds by Christmas,” he said.

While Monday's case numbers included a backlog of about 1,500 cases from over the weekend, the surge is expected to trigger new restrictions later this week.

Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said county officials are preparing to announce a "targeted safer-at-home order" this week that would only allow residents to leave their homes for essential work and services for a three-week period. 

The measures come after the county surpassed a daily average of more than 4,500 cases over a five-day period.

"One of the sad realities for all of us is that we've never seen a rate of increase as high as what we've just seen," Ferrer said at a news conference. "Our problem right now is we have such a high rate of transmission and there's so many people that are infected so at this point, it will take a lot of work to get us back down."

Some context: The county already tightened restrictions on Sunday, after its five-day average number of new infections surpassed 4,000. They include:

  • All restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars can only offer takeout, drive-through and delivery services starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Retail stores, offices, and personal care services are also required to operate at 25% maximum capacity.
  • Outdoor mini golf and batting cages will be limited to 50% maximum capacity.

Los Angeles County health officials and the county's Board of Supervisors will deliberate and decide on additional closures at a board meeting Tuesday. Ferrer said the current surge in Los Angeles is "alarming" and "much steeper" than the increase in cases seen in June and July. 

9:53 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Colorado will take part in a dry run for Covid-19 vaccine distribution

From CNN's Raja Razek

The state of Colorado announced Monday it will participate in a dress rehearsal for the federal government's coronavirus distribution plan.

The Colorado State Joint Information Center said in a news release that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Operation Warp Speed (OWS) have chosen the state to participate in "a pilot run of the end-to-end logistics readiness test" for Covid-19 vaccine distribution.

"Colorado is prepared to receive and distribute COVID-19 vaccine(s) as soon as one becomes available," the release said.
"Participating in the end-to-end test is an opportunity to increase operational readiness as well as evaluate the state's ability to coordinate, communicate, and share information from a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary standpoint," it added.

Colorado has confirmed a total of 192,943 Covid-19 cases, with 2,456 deaths.

According to Colorado's Covid-19 dashboard, the state's test positivity rate is 11.07%, and the seven-day moving average of new hospitalizations is 239. 

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

9:26 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

FDA asks committee critical to vaccine authorization to meet twice in December 

From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked members of its vaccine advisory committee to reserve Dec. 17 and 18 for meetings, presumably to discuss a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Moderna, according to a source familiar with the process. 

The FDA consults with its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee before allowing any vaccine -- including a coronavirus vaccine -- to go on the market. 

On Sunday, Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, mentioned a Dec. 17 FDA review for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. Last week, the pharmaceutical company announced that initial data shows its vaccine is 94.5% effective against Covid-19.  

The FDA has called a meeting of the committee for Dec. 10 to consider Pfizer’s application for emergency use authorization for the vaccine it has developed with its partner BioNTech. Pfizer says its vaccine is 95% effective against Covid-19. 

Moderna is awaiting more data on study participants who became ill with coronavirus and could apply to the FDA for emergency use authorization in the next week, according to a Moderna spokesman. 

“Within the next week or so, we expect to see efficacy data based on 151 COVID-19 cases per our protocol, and, if appropriate based on the data, make an EUA submission shortly thereafter,” spokesman Ray Jordan told CNN.
9:19 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

England reduces 14-day isolation period for travelers required to self-isolate

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood 

Travellers exit Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 on August 22, 2020 in London, England.
Travellers exit Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 on August 22, 2020 in London, England. Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Starting Dec. 15, England will introduce a new coronavirus testing strategy for passengers arriving from a "non-exempt" country where passengers will only have to self-isolate for five days, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Department for Transport said the plan would replace the existing rules that require passengers to self-isolate for 14 days. On completion of the new five-day isolation, passengers will need to show a receipt of a negative coronavirus test in order to be declared coronavirus-free.

“We have a plan in place to ensure that our route out of this pandemic is careful and balanced, allowing us to focus on what we can now do to bolster international travel while keeping the public safe,” Shapps said in a statement.

“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business. By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”

The statement also said that under the plan, passengers arriving by plane, ferry or train should book their test before they travel and must complete a passenger locator form.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the coronavirus test of the isolation period would identify positive coronavirus cases and allow those who test negative to return to work.

“This will be done at the cost of the traveller to protect the capacity of NHS Test and Trace and ensure that any UK resident who has symptoms is able to get a test,” Hancock said in the statement.

The Transport Department told CNN that the first day of passenger isolation would take place on arrival to England.

8:32 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

People need to be told they may feel sick after getting Covid-19 vaccine, CDC committee says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Americans need to be prepared for the possibility that they may feel a little unwell after they get a coronavirus vaccine, if one is authorized, members of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee said Monday.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met to discuss whether to recommend use of any Covid-19 vaccine that the US Food and Drug Administration might authorize.

Volunteers in vaccine trials have reported they frequently feel flu-like effects after getting vaccinated, and members of the ACIP -- as well as liaison representatives who take part in the discussion -- said that could affect people's willingness to get vaccinated in the first place, or to get the second dose of the two-vaccine regimen.

"As a practicing physician, I have got to be sure my patients will come back for the second dose. We really have got to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park," Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the Emory University School of Medicine, representing the American Medical Association, told the meeting.
"They are going to know they got a vaccine. They are not going to feel wonderful."

The whole point of vaccination is to cause an immune response in the body and that can sometimes cause flu-like symptoms such as body aches, or even fever and a headache.

Read the full story:

7:20 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Fauci concerned that Thanksgiving travel will amplify coronavirus surge

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

PBS News hour
PBS News hour

Millions of Americans are traveling for Thanksgiving this week and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that he is worried.

“What most concerns me now is, you know, the immediate situation with people traveling from different places, coming home for Thanksgiving,” Fauci said during an interview with the PBS Newshour.

“When you leave a location and have to go to an airport or wherever it is, a train station, et cetera, the possibility of exposing yourself and then going home to your home community for a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving holiday might actually, unfortunately, be a source of, or even amplification of, the surge,” said Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Fauci said he has other worries, too.

Numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all growing, Fauci pointed out. “Superimpose upon that that as we get further into the late fall and early winter with the weather being colder, forcing more people throughout most regions of the country to do things indoors more than outdoors — this is something that, you know, at obviously at face value is a very, very challenging situation,” he said.

The infectious disease expert said people who have decided to travel this week “are putting themselves and their families at risk.”

Much of the time, people who are infected with Covid-19 but have no symptoms and are responsible for community spread, Fauci said.

“So what we ask people to do is to at least, stop for a moment and do what I call a risk benefit assessment of what you want to do in the holiday, what you want to do for the season where you bring people in your home,” he said.

If you have elderly people in your home or individuals with underlying health conditions, Fauci suggested, you should really weigh hosting a celebration this year.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week advised Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving this year because of the surging pandemic.


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.