November 25 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:59 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020
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9:48 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

White House considering lifting European travel restrictions as US Covid-19 cases surge

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

The White House is strongly considering lifting sweeping restrictions on travel from the European Union and the United Kingdom, an administration official confirmed.

Discussions have been ongoing for several weeks about lifting the restrictions, which ban entry to most foreigners who have been to Europe in the two weeks before their arrival in the US. Reuters first reported on the discussions.

An administration official told CNN that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expressed some reservations about lifting the restrictions, but the agency is not expected to block the move.

The discussions come at a time when the US is experiencing its worst surge of coronavirus, and as many European countries also face higher levels of coronavirus cases.

President Trump has yet to sign off on the move, but once he does, the restrictions are unlikely to be lifted until the US and European countries have established a protocol for safe travel between the two countries.

The White House did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directed CNN to the White House and the Health and Human Services Department when asked for comment.

Trump first banned most travel from the European Union and UK in March as the pandemic escalated. The EU soon followed suit, restricting most travel from the US and other countries.

9:39 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Texas doctor says he expects more sick patients after Thanksgiving

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Joseph Varon on November 25.
Dr. Joseph Varon on November 25. CNN

Dr. Joseph Varon, chief medical officer at Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center, says he expects an influx of sick patients after Thanksgiving. 

“My concerns for the next six to 12 weeks is that if we don't do things right, America is going to see the darkest days in modern American medical history,” Varon said in an interview on CNN. 
“My hospital is full. I just opened two new wings so that I can accommodate for the next few days, because I know that a lot of people are going to get sick after Thanksgiving,” he added.

Today is Dr. Varon’s 251st continuous day of working due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

He said that he is “running out of fumes” but he “can't get a day off, because nobody cares for the patients that I can care for.” 

He said that he sees people who still do not listen to guidelines. “You go outside, and it's like nothing has happened. People are out there, restaurants, bars, I mean, just name it," he said.


8:58 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

This Thanksgiving will be the first for American families who lost loved ones to Covid-19

More than 259,000 people in the US have died from coronavirus since the pandemic began earlier this year.

That means, for thousands of American families, this will be their first Thanksgiving without a loved one. Empty chairs at dining tables across the US are somber reminders of the pandemic's toll.

CNN spoke to some of these families. You can listen to their stories here.

9:28 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Another 778,000 Americans filed unemployment claims last week

From CNN’s Paul R. La Monica

People line up in their cars at a food distribution site at Lake-Sumter State College in Clermont, Florida, on November 21.
People line up in their cars at a food distribution site at Lake-Sumter State College in Clermont, Florida, on November 21. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

The recovery in the American job market is still painfully slow. Another 778,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on seasonally adjusted basis.

That was more than the 735,000 initial jobless claims that economists were expecting, and it's also higher than last week's revised number of 748,000.

It's the second straight week that first-time claims rose.

The latest unemployment benefits figures were released by the Labor Department on Wednesday, a day earlier than usual because of the Thanksgiving holiday. 

The report also showed that continued jobless claims, which include people who have applied for benefits for at least two weeks in a row, was 6.1 million on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was down from the previous week.

And 4.5 million more people had received Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits from the government as of the week of Nov. 7. There is a two-week lag with PEUC data.

Overall, more than 20.4 million Americans were still receiving some form of unemployment benefits as of Nov. 7.

8:32 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving air travel expected to remain strong despite CDC warning

From CNN’s Pete Muntean

Travelers walk at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on November 24.
Travelers walk at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on November 24. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Thanksgiving week air travel is expected to remain strong enough to set a pandemic era-record, despite urging from federal health officials to spend the holiday at home, according to Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Andy Post.  

The agency receives passenger information from the airlines as part of its screening responsibilities, and the data do not show widespread cancelations in recent days, Post said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last week that Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving to prevent coronavirus spread.

Approximately 4.8 million people have boarded airplanes since that warning. More than 900,000 passed through security at America’s airports on Tuesday, the TSA said.  

Officials still expect Sunday – when everyone heads home from their holiday travels – to be the busiest day travel since the pandemic began.

8:32 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Fauci says he's worried about what US Covid-19 case numbers will look like 3 weeks after Thanksgiving

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Europe has been a couple of weeks ahead of the US at every phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday.

 “So, what happens now that they start to plateau, so they’re pulling back down on their lockdowns,” Fauci said on Good Morning America. “We will almost certainly, may already start seeing it, for those areas, those states, those cities that are fully mitigating with the things I just mentioned – you’ll start to see a plateauing hopefully to come down.”

“The one thing we do not want is if we get a surge now, George, over Thanksgiving, we’ll have that slope up, plateau, and then slope up again that we’ll see in three weeks,” he said.

This is why Fauci and others in the administration are trying to so hard to get the message out that people need to be safe and careful over Thanksgiving, he said.

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

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Here's Dr. Fauci's final message to Americans.

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a news conference at the White House on November 19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a news conference at the White House on November 19. Susan Walsh/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, offered a final message to Americans before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“The final message is to do what really we’ve been saying now for some time, is to the extent possible, keep the gatherings – the indoor gatherings – as small as you possibly can," he said.

“We all know how difficult that is, because this is such a beautiful, traditional holiday,” Fauci added on Good Morning America on Wednesday. “But by making that sacrifice, you prevent people from getting infected.”

He said that people with no symptoms can innocently go to a party or gathering that is indoors, let their guard down, and have to take a mask off if eating or drinking. “Try to avoid that as much as possible,” he said.

“A sacrifice now could save lives and illness and make the future much brighter as we get through this,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “Because, George, we’re going to get through this.”

“What we don’t want to see is yet another surge superposed upon the surge that you just described,” Fauci said. “Which we’ll realize three, three and a half weeks from now, if we don’t do these public health things.”

Last week, Fauci said his three adult daughters, who live in separate parts of the country, decided that they did not want to put him, as an elderly person, at risk. Fauci is 79 years old. 

He and his wife will have a meal and Zoom with his daughters to spend time with them.

8:45 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Countries around the world are getting ready to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz, Kara Fox, David Wilkinson, Sharon Braithwaite, Amy Cassidy and Claudia Rebaza

A trial volunteer in Oxford, England, is administered a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
A trial volunteer in Oxford, England, is administered a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. John Cairns/University of Oxford/AP

A handful of countries have announced their coronavirus vaccine distribution plans, with some prepping for as early as mid-December.

Here's where each stand:


Austria became the latest country to announce a plan for distribution when Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced today that the country was hoping to roll out the vaccine to the elderly, carers and medical workers by January.

Speaking at a press conference in Vienna, Kurz thanked the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for procuring vaccines for European countries, calling them a “game changer.”

The European Union has signed deals for the supply of millions of vaccine doses with multiple drugmakers, including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer.

Kurz said he believes that Austria will return to “normalcy” by next summer.


On Monday, Italy also announced that it hoped to start distributing the vaccine by the end of January.

Speaking on the on Italian television channel La7 on Monday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the vaccine will be available first to the "fragile and most exposed to danger.”

Conte also said that the vaccine would be administered on a voluntary basis for now.

When asked if he would get vaccinated, Conte said he "will definitely do it," because when it will be distributed it will be "absolutely safe".


German Health Minister Jens Spahn is optimistic a vaccine could be available by December.

"There is reason to be optimistic that a vaccine will be approved in Europe this year. And then we can start with the vaccinations immediately,” Spahn said on Monday, according to CNN affiliate NTV.

Spahn also said that he had asked the country’s 16 regional states to establish immunization centers by mid-December in anticipation of the vaccine approval.


Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa said that he expects to receive the country's first coronavirus vaccine doses in January. 

During a press conference on Tuesday, Illa presented the government’s plan that will prioritize the most vulnerable, which includes about 2.5 million people. Nursing home residents and staff will be first, followed by the disabled and general health workers, he said.

Spain’s strategy aims to vaccinate a significant part of the population within the first six months of 2021, with the plan expected to be completed in three stages.

The first one will begin in January until March with a limited number of doses available, followed by a second stage from March until June, when authorities expect to increase the number of vaccinations with a final stage starting in June, which is expected to cover a wider segment of the population.

The health minister also said he was confident his government’s plan will be able to provide vaccines for the whole country, noting that they had signed agreements that should allow for 140 million doses to

“According to the agreements we have signed, we estimate that Spain will receive 140 million doses to immunize approximately 80 million people, obviously this (number) is higher than our country’s population”

He said that the vaccine won’t be mandatory and will be available free of charge.


The first Americans could receive a coronavirus vaccine by December 11, according to Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the head of the government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.

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 told CNN 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 said.


The UK’s Health Screechy Matt Hancock said in a statement on Monday that its national health service would be “ready to deliver” the Covid-19 vaccine following regulatory approval.

“The NHS has vast experience in delivering widespread vaccination programs and an enormous amount of work has taken place to ensure we have the logistical expertise, transport and workforce to roll out a vaccine according to clinical priority, at the speed at which it can be manufactured," Hancock said.

Britain is expected to receive a total of 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the end of 2021 -- which is "enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population, with the majority of doses anticipated in the first half of next year," according to a statement from the Department of Health on Monday.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will only be authorized for supply by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) "if it meets strict standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness, and if they are satisfied the vaccine can be consistently manufactured," it said.  

11:48 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Christmas this year will be different for many Europeans

From CNN's James Frater, Pierre Bairin, Lindsay Isaac, Fred Pleitgen and Amy Cassidy

A Christmas tree illuminates a street in London on November 19.
A Christmas tree illuminates a street in London on November 19. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

As many European countries prepare to relax coronavirus restrictions for the upcoming Christmas holidays, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, has called on EU leaders not to ease measures too quickly:

“I know that shop owners, bartenders and waiters in restaurants want an end to restrictions, but we must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes,”

Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels, von der Leyen said, “Relaxing too fast and too much, is a risk for a third wave after Christmas.” 

EU countries are taking differing approaches for the Christmas holidays. Here's a look at what some of them are doing:

Today, the Irish government announced that it will ease restrictions for nearly two weeks around the Christmas period and is considering allowing up to three household to gather for the holidays, deputy premier Leo Varadkar told state broadcaster RTE on Wednesday.

"We know people are going to do it anyway, so it's better we provide for it in a safe way,” Varadkar told RTE.

The country has been under the strictest “Level Five” restrictions since October, which prohibits social gatherings at homes or in gardens — with restaurants, cafes and bars only open for takeaway. 

Varadkar told RTE these restrictions would be eased “in phases” and would only be put back in place in January "if the virus is taking off again."

The number of Covid-19 infections in Ireland has steadily declined in the last two weeks, according to government data, with six deaths and 226 cases confirmed in the 24 hours up to Tuesday. 

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday night a relaxation of lockdown measures in the country. France's lockdown could be lifted on Dec. 15, if the daily number of cases drops under 5,000 and there are only 2,000 to 3,000 patients in ICUs. There were 4,438 patients in ICUs as of Monday.

“We will therefore once again be able to travel without authorization, including between regions, and spend Christmas with our family,” he said.

In Britain, up to three households will be allowed to gather in the days around Christmas in an easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the UK government said Tuesday. Those households will be allowed to form a "Christmas bubble" and mix indoors, outdoors and in places of worship from Dec. 23 to 27 in all four nations of the UK.  There will be no restrictions on travel across the country for that time period, even if some areas are under tighter measures under a tiered system than others. 

Poland has taken a more cautious line, with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki urging people not to make any trips nor visit any attractions during the holidays. He said in a press conference at the weekend that a maximum of five people would be allowed to meet indoors, with those who live together not included in that limit.

Similarly, in Germany, people will be allowed to gather in groups of up to five from two households. The country is to announce a more detailed plan in the next few days.

Italy is adopting a careful approach, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte saying the "upcoming Christmas season will need tailored measures" because the country cannot allow itself to repeat what happened during the summer.

In Spain the government and regions are discussing plans but no consensus has yet been reached.

Belgium’s Consultative Committee — made up of leaders from the three regional governments and federal government — is due to meet on Friday to assess the coronavirus measures currently in place and how the country would be able to celebrate Christmas.