November 24 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Antonia Mortensen, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020
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2:02 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Pennsylvania adds more than 6,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

People in cars wait in line for COVID-19 testing in Reading, Pennsylvania, outside FirstEnergy Stadium on October 13.
People in cars wait in line for COVID-19 testing in Reading, Pennsylvania, outside FirstEnergy Stadium on October 13. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty Images

Pennsylvania added 6,669 new cases of Covid-19 as of midnight Tuesday morning, according to the state's Department of Health.

This brings the state's total case count to 321,070.

The state reported 81 new deaths.

There are 3,459 Pennsylvanians hospitalized with Covid-19, and of those, 767 are in ICUs, according to the department.

Most of those hospitalized are aged 65 or older, they said in a release. 

Health officials said the "trend in the 14-day moving average of number of hospitalized patients per day has increased by nearly 2,200 since the end of September."

Note: These numbers were released by the a local public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

1:55 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

White House coronavirus task force calls for "significant behavior change of all Americans"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The White House coronavirus task force continues to sound the alarm on the spread of the pandemic across the country in weekly reports to states, focusing this week on mitigation efforts and calling for “significant behavior change of all Americans.”

“There is aggressive, rapid, and expanding community spread across the country, reaching over 2,000 counties,” the reports, dated Nov. 22 and obtained by CNN, said.  

The reports compared mitigation strategies such as mask usage, social distancing, and dining restrictions, working in some parts of the country to Europe, but warned that efforts in some parts of the US are not having an impact.

“In states with aggressive mitigation, we are beginning to see the impact of that mitigation despite the cooling weather. We are also seeing stabilization in many European countries that implemented strong public and private mitigation, but preserved schooling. However, in many areas of the country, mitigation efforts are inadequate or too recently implemented to see a significant impact,” the reports said. 

Those mitigation strategies, the task force said, will require “significant behavior change of all Americans,” including the wearing of masks. 

More aggressive testing efforts, the task force said, “must be combined with significant behavior change of all Americans. Ensure masks at all times in public, increase physical distancing through significant reduction in capacity in public and private indoor spaces, and ensure every American understands the clear risks of ANY family or friend interactions outside of their immediate household indoors without masks.” 

The reports also offered this bleak assessment: “All states and all counties must flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.” 

North Dakota is yet again the state with the highest number of new cases per 100,000 population since at least mid-October, followed by Wyoming, then South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Montana, Wisconsin, Utah, and New Mexico in the top 10. 

Days before the Thanksgiving holiday, the task force urged this messaging: “We need to protect those we are thankful for in our families and communities. Ensure indoor masking around vulnerable family members during any gatherings.” 

2:03 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

New York governor says state is on track to see "major spike" in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Laura Dolan

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on November 24.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on November 24. Pool/WPIX

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a stark warning on the coronavirus pandemic.

During a news briefing Tuesday, Cuomo said, "by our current rate of increase, current, we’re going to see a major spike" in Covid-19 cases. 

"Over the past three weeks the statewide hospitalization rate has increased 128%," he added.

The state has gone from 1,200 people statewide to 2,800 people per day in three weeks and "that is a dramatic increase."

New York City saw "nearly a 100% increase in three weeks," Cuomo said.

He attributed the increase to the onset of the fall season.

Cuomo said if you add a second factor, the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s with increased social activity, it will increase the spread. 

"Let’s say it increases the spread 20%. The day after New Year’s, New York state positivity will go from 2.9% to 12%," he warned.
"Those numbers and that rate of increase is more than troublesome," he added. 

Today’s overall statewide positivity rate is 2.9%, Cuomo reported.

Note: These numbers were released by New York's public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

1:59 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

UK will loosen Covid-19 restrictions for Christmas

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

In an easing of Covid-19 restrictions, Britain will allow for up to three households to gather indoors in the days around Christmas, the UK government said Tuesday. 

Up to three households will be allowed to form a "Christmas bubble" and mix indoors, outdoors and in places of worship from Dec. 23-28. This will apply to all four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

There will be no restrictions on travel across the country for that time period even if some areas are under tighter measures than others under a tiered system.

"This cannot be a ‘normal’ Christmas. But as we approach the festive period, we have been working closely together to find a way for family and friends to see each other, even if it is for a short time, and recognising that it must be both limited and cautious," a government news release reads. 

"The UK-wide agreement reached today will offer hope for families and friends who have made many sacrifices over this difficult year."

1:05 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

South Dakota tops 70,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kay Jones

South Dakota surpassed 70,000 total Covid-19 cases, with nearly 1,000 new cases reported Tuesday. 

The South Dakota Department of Health reported 955 new cases Tuesday, bringing the state's total to 70,172. The total number of Covid-19 death reported statewide since the start of the pandemic stands at 821.

The health department reported that just 16.7% of the state's intensive care unit beds are currently available, down from 18.7% on Monday. Nearly 50% of the state's ICU beds are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients, the state's dashboard shows. The health department said that 574 Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized.

Note: These numbers were released by the state's public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.   

1:06 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Oklahoma surpasses 180,000 total Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kay Jones

A Cleveland County Health Department employee speaks to a driver of a car at a mobile testing site for COVID-19 in Norman, Oklahoma on April 9.
A Cleveland County Health Department employee speaks to a driver of a car at a mobile testing site for COVID-19 in Norman, Oklahoma on April 9. Sue Ogrocki/AP

The state of Oklahoma reported Tuesday a total of more than 180,000 Covid-19 cases since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Tuesday 2,736 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 180,610. Fifteen new deaths were recorded Tuesday, bringing the state's total to 1,664, according to the department's dashboard.

For the fourth day in a row, just 5% of the state's intensive care unit beds are available. There are 1,566 Covid-19 patients hospitalized statewide, the dashboard shows.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City has extended its mask mandate through Jan. 22. The original mandate was set to expire on Dec. 7, but the city council voted today to extend the order. 

Oklahoma City has 28,161 total cases and 228 deaths, according to the department's dashboard. Approximately 6,000 of those cases are currently active, the dashboard shows. 

Note: These numbers were released by the state's public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.  

12:39 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

US could distribute Covid-19 vaccine "soon after" Dec. 10, HHS secretary says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during an Operation Warp Speed briefing on November 24.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during an Operation Warp Speed briefing on November 24. HHS & DoD

The United States could start distributing doses of a Covid-19 vaccine "soon after" Dec. 10, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday.

The US Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet on that date in December to discuss Pfizer and BioNTech’s application for an emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine.

"If all goes well, we could be distributing vaccine soon after Dec. 10," Azar said during an Operation Warp Speed briefing on Tuesday. 

"We believe we can distribute vaccine to all 64 jurisdictions within 24 hours of FDA authorization. Then we hope administration could begin as soon as the product arrives," Azar said. "One of the private sector partners we've enlisted, CVS Health, has said that they expect to be vaccinating residents of nursing homes — one of the top priority groups — within 48 hours after FDA authorization."

12:25 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Kentucky is "being overwhelmed" by Covid-19, governor says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during an interview on November 24.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during an interview on November 24. CNN

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says the state is “being overwhelmed” by coronavirus.

“It’s overwhelming our contact tracing and our best defenses. Take our long-term care facilities: We are testing our workers there three times a week, but we still can't keep Covid out of those facilities because the community spread is so high,” Beshear said in an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

The governor said that one veterans home in the state has had 27 deaths just in the past month.

After Beshear halted in-person learning last week, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined a federal lawsuit against the governor’s executive order.

“We're at war with this virus and we have two choices: to surrender and take the fatalities, or to fight back. So we are throwing our best punch in a limited period of time, really about over three weeks. We are addressing the main areas where Covid-19 is spreading or could be amplified, especially after the Thanksgiving holiday, in ways that could be deadly,” Beshear said. 

“I have a 10 and 11-year-old, who do so much better in in-person classes, but we don't think about their teachers, about people we're asking to walk into those classrooms every day when we're on fire with Covid in virtually every one of their communities. We're just trying to do the right thing,” he added. 
11:54 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Wyoming governor's office closed due to Covid-19 case

From CNN’s Jessica Jordan

The Wyoming governor’s office will be closed for a deep cleaning after an employee in the office tested positive for Covid-19 according to a news release.

Gov. Gordon Mark Gordan was not in close contact with the employee and is not required to quarantine. Governor Gordan will work remotely out of an "abundance of caution," the release goes on to say.