November 29 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Brett McKeehan and Eoin McSweeney, CNN

Updated 0559 GMT (1359 HKT) November 30, 2020
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11:10 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

White House testing czar says he's confident the administration's vaccine distribution plan will work

 From CNN's Naomi Thomas


Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House’s coronavirus testing czar, responded on Sunday to a question from CNN about whether it would be a mistake for the Biden team to change the vaccine distribution plan.

CNN's Dana Bash quoted Giroir’s message to the Biden administration team from earlier in the week as “you need to let it work.” 

“Obviously we think the plan that’s there is pretty optimum,” Giroir said. “There was formal meetings with Operation Warp Speed last week with the Biden transition team, I’m told that meeting went extremely well.” 

Giroir also gave the reminder that almost everyone on Operation Warp Speed, “who’s actually delivering the vaccine and controlling the logistics, they’ll be there on January 19, they’ll be there on January 21.” 

“So, I believe there’ll be a smooth, professional transition,” he said. 

He said to remember that they’re starting with about 40 million doses of vaccine, already this year there have been 180 million flu vaccines distributed.  

“Now the logistics are more difficult and the cold chain is more difficult, but I really am confident in the plan to get it, and particularly get it to the states and get it to the high risk populations,” he said. 

“This is a lifesaving vaccines. This puts an end to the pandemic. This the way we get out of the pandemic, the light is at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “But the American people have to do the right things until we get that vaccine widely distributed, wear a mask, avoid indoor crowded spaces, all the things you know.”  

On testing, Giroir said that the US is doing more than enough.

“We’re doing everything we can possibly do on testing,” he told CNN.

“We have our first home based test, it's only available about 100,000 per month, but we're going to continue to invest, knock down every door to get the technologies and to scale up,” he said. “We would ultimately like to get to a point in time where we do a lot more asymptomatic testing.”

10:38 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

Mississippi surpasses 150,000 total Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kay Jones

Mississippi Department of Health has reported its second highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases on Sunday as the state surpasses 150,000 total cases.

The 1,845 new cases reported on Sunday brings the state's total number of confirmed cases to 151,785.

Hospitalizations are increasing statewide, with 971 patients currently hospitalized with the virus. This is up from 618 patients on Nov. 7, according to the dashboard. Of those, 245 patients are currently in the intensive care unit. 

There are 27 new deaths being reported on Sunday, with nine of those occurring between Friday and Saturday, the state's dashboard shows. The total number of deaths in Mississippi since the start of the pandemic now stands at 3,806.

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

10:54 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

White House testing czar says Americans who traveled during Thanksgiving should get tested

From CNN Health’s Leanna Faulk

Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House's coronavirus testing czar, said today if you’ve done any traveling over the holidays, you should get tested.

“Just remember you've had an increased risk of being exposed, so you should decrease unnecessary activities for about a week, and if you can get tested in three or five days that's also a very good idea,” Giroir told CNN on Sunday.

Giroir said he is concerned about a possible surge in cases and hospitalizations as travel increases.

“There certainly can be a surge because of the travel and the mixing of people who have not been in their own little pods,” he said. “We are at a risky time because of the travel and again, it's not just the travel, but it's exposing people who have not been sort of in their own pods.”

“Our hospitalizations are peaking right now at about 95,000,” he said. “About 20% of all people in the hospital have Covid, so this is a really dangerous time.” 

Unless you’ve come into contact with someone for longer than 15 minutes who has tested positive for Covid-19, it is not recommended that you quarantine after gathering for Thanksgiving, according to Giroir.

“That's not recommended to have a quarantine after travel unless you've had a direct exposure to a person with Covid for 15 minutes in close contact,” he said.

“Make really sure you adhere 100% to mask wearing to avoid crowds because you could inadvertently have gotten Covid and spread it, so just be careful during the week after your travel because you are at increased risk,” Giroir said. 


10:01 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

There should be enough vaccines for 20 million Americans by the end of year, Giroir says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House’s coronavirus testing czar, told CNN that he wanted to make sure that all Americans knew that Covid-19 vaccines had been tested in tens of thousands of individuals and that there is going to be independent and transparent review of them. 

He also said that he, the surgeon general and the rest of the team “are really out there trying to educate the public.” 

While they have to wait and see what the data show, Giroir said that “all indications are this is an extremely safe vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna, and very, very effective, over 95% effective.” 

Giroir also spoke about immunizing for impact, or immunizing the groups that are at the highest risk, for example long term care facilities, the elderly and minorities. 

If this happens, “we can absolutely get 80% of the benefit of the vaccine by only immunizing a few percent of the population,” he said, “and that’s what we really need to do this month.” 

Giroir added that by the end of the year there should be enough vaccine available to immunize 20 million Americans, “and we have to immunize for impact.

The rest of America will get in the second quarter, third quarter of 2021, but we can maximize our impact right now.” 

9:19 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

Fauci expresses concern about US health systems as the pandemic persists

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a news conference at the White House on November 19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during 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, shared concerns he had about US health systems as the coronavirus pandemic persists in the country.

Fauci told NBC that he had a couple of calls from colleagues and associates who are involved in different states throughout the country, just last night, who saying that they were at a point where if things don’t turn around quickly they would have a situation with both hospital capacity and staff.

He said they were asking what they should do and “almost pleading for advice about what can we do, we don’t want to lock down completely, but we might have to.”

Fauci said this was local, not national. 

“I'm talking locally I'm not talking about nationally,” he said. “I'm talking about individual locations of people starting to see significant stresses on the hospital and healthcare delivery system. So, again that's such an even more important reason why we got to realize that we do have within our capability to be able to blunt that by doing the simple things that we talked about, short of locking down, so we don't precipitate, the necessity of locking down.”


9:06 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

It's "not too late at all for us to do something about" the pandemic, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

There was a concern entering and coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday as people travelled and congregated, which was why experts tried to get out the message that people shouldn’t have large gatherings but to keep it confined to their immediate households, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told NBC on Sunday.

“But, you know people are not always going to do that so what we expect unfortunately, as we go to the next couple of weeks into December, that we might see a surge superimposed upon that surge that we're already in,” Fauci said. 

Fauci said that he didn’t want to frighten people by giving this message, “except to say it is not too late at all for us to do something about this, because as we travel back to be careful when we go back to where we are, to just continue to do the things that we’ve been talking about.”  

He said that it is known that something can be done about the infection curve particularly going in to the colder season, by doing things like mitigating with masks, distance and not having crowds or congregate settings. 

When asked whether there would be more dire warnings about travel preparing for Christmas and New Year’s, Fauci said “I think we’re going to be faced with another situation, we’re going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family, that we’re in a very difficult time and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season.” 

This is because, Fauci said, “we’re entering into what really is a precarious situation because we’re in the middle of a steep slope.” 

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, he said, because vaccines will be seen soon, “we likely, almost certainly, are going to be vaccinating a portion of the individuals in the first priority before the end of December.” Going in to January, February and March, more and more people will be being vaccinated. 

7:43 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

More than 91,000 people, the most of the pandemic, are hospitalized with coronavirus in the US

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

EMT Giselle Dorgalli, second from right, looks at a monitor while performing chest compression on a patient who tested positive for coronavirus in the emergency room at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on November 19, 2020.
EMT Giselle Dorgalli, second from right, looks at a monitor while performing chest compression on a patient who tested positive for coronavirus in the emergency room at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on November 19, 2020. Jae C. Hong/AP

Following a month of skyrocketing Covid-19 cases, the US has reached its highest number yet of hospitalizations due to the virus.

The US surpassed 80,000 daily hospitalizations on November 19 and set new records steadily for 17 days straight until Friday, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Then on Saturday, the number reached 91,635.

The spread of coronavirus has been climbing at concerning rates leading up to and just following the Thanksgiving holiday and could soon be getting worse due to holiday travel, experts say. As of Saturday, more than 13.2 million people have been infected by the virus and at least 266,047 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 4 million of the total cases of the pandemic have been reported in the month of November (about 30%), and more than 100,000 cases have been recorded every day for the last 26 consecutive days, JHU said.

Despite calls from officials and health experts to stay home, there was still an uptick in travel during the week of Thanksgiving. With weather getting colder and more people gathering indoors, experts have cautioned that the already climbing number of cases could get worse in the coming weeks.

"If anything, we are rounding the corner into a calamity," said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency medicine physician and a visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. "We're soon going to exceed well more than 2,000 deaths, maybe 3,000, 4,000 deaths every single day here in the US."

Read the full story here

7:19 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

Covid-19 claims beloved Chicago dispatcher: "His pride was going to work"

From CNN's Peter Nickeas

Guadalupe Lopez at the 911 dispatch center where he worked as a dispatcher for more than 30 years
Guadalupe Lopez at the 911 dispatch center where he worked as a dispatcher for more than 30 years

Guadalupe Lopez, known as Lupe (or Lou, in emergencies) died earlier this month of Covid-19. He was a 58-year-old dispatcher and among the essential workers who must show up to work, and one of the more than 9,100 people who have died from the disease in the Chicago area.

"His pride was going to work," said Erica Lopez, his daughter. "He loved his job. He loved making sure police officers made it home at night."

A wake for Lopez is scheduled for this weekend, with a funeral planned for Monday. His wife of more than 30 years is also sick with Covid-19 and will be unable to attend the services. She was transferred from the hospital where her husband died to a different one, says Andy Lopez, 21, the couple's youngest child. She was on a ventilator in the intensive care unit as of Friday.

Doctors are reducing her amount of assistance from the ventilator every day, Andy says. "Every little improvement is good to hear," Andy said. "We just hope to hear that every day. We're not settling until she's out."

Lopez worked as a dispatcher more than 30 years and grew up in the Little Village neighborhood. As a dispatcher, he handled police emergencies in an area that included where he grew up.

Read the full story here

6:28 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

Czech government to let shops and restaurants reopen from Thursday

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova and Duarte Mendonca in London.

A health care worker conducts a Covid-19 test at a drive-in testing station on October 10, 2020 in Prague.
A health care worker conducts a Covid-19 test at a drive-in testing station on October 10, 2020 in Prague. Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

The Czech government will allow restaurants and non-essential shops to reopen from this Thursday, December 3, as the current wave of the coronavirus pandemic eases, Health Minister Jan Blatny said on Sunday.

The Czech government agreed unanimously that the country is ready to move from Level 4 risk to Level 3, based on the country’s Covid-19 risk assessment system, Blatny said.

This means all shops and restaurants can open, with the caveat of limiting customer numbers to allow for social distancing.

A night-time curfew will be lifted and limited sports activities can resume, the Health Minister announced.

The country's Prime Minister, Andrej Babis, is overseeing one of the worst coronavirus epidemics in the world. In October he stood in front of reporters during a live news conference and apologized to his people five times when announcing restrictions.

The Czech Republic was praised for the way it handled the first wave of the pandemic in the spring when the government imposed an early lockdown and made masks compulsory at a time when most of the Western world barely considered that move.