December 2 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 3, 2020
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11:28 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

What questions do you have about Covid-19 vaccines?

The UK today became the first country to allow the use of Pfizer and BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine.

And in the US, federal government officials are promising coronavirus vaccines soon — some even before Christmas — and states are gearing up to begin vaccinating Americans sometime in December.

With all this news of possible coronavirus vaccines, do you have a question about how they work? Would you take a vaccine once it becomes available? If not, what reservations do you have and why?

Leave your questions in the box below and we will try to find you some answers.

11:29 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

14-day Covid-19 quarantine can be shortened for some people, new CDC guidance says

From CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht

New guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday says quarantine periods can be shorter than 14 days for some people exposed to Covid-19.

The CDC continues to recommend quarantining for 14 days as the best way to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19, Dr. Henry Walke, who serves as the agency's Covid-19 incident manager, said during a telebriefing.

But Walke said there are “two acceptable alternative” quarantine periods: Quarantine can end after 10 days without a Covid-19 test if the person reported no symptoms, or after seven days with a negative test result if the person has reported no symptoms.

People who have been exposed should still watch for symptoms for 14 days, especially if they end quarantine earlier, Walke said.

“I want to stress that we are sharing these options with public health agencies across the country, so that they can determine how long quarantine period should last in their jurisdictions based on local conditions and needs,” Walke said. “Everyone should follow this specific guidance from their local public health authorities about how long they should quarantine.”

Reducing the length may make it easier for people to quarantine, Walke said, and lessen stress on the public health system as new infections are rising quickly.

11:17 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

The UK will start vaccinating tens of thousands of people next week. Here's how it will work.

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

Tens of thousands of people in the UK will begin receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine starting next week, after the UK became the first western country to authorize use of a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

The initial rollout of the vaccine – comprised of two doses taken three weeks apart – will prioritize care home residents and staff, people over 80 and health and care workers, DCHS said in a press release.

Up to 800,000 doses of the vaccine, which is enough to inoculate 400,000 people, are being made available next week. 

The UK has already ordered 40 million doses, “enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population, and the majority of doses are anticipated in the first half of next year,” the statement said.

Here's how the distribution process will work:

  • Pfizer will dispatch the vaccine from Belgium to the UK. This is followed by a post-delivery quality assurance process to ensure the vaccine’s quality and integrity has been maintained.
  • Once all checks are complete the vaccine will be made available to order by authorized sites in the National Health Service (NHS).
  • Orders will be packed and shipped as appropriate for the required storage temperature of each vaccine. Generally vaccines will be delivered on a next day delivery schedule except for more remote parts of the UK where delivery may take 48 hours.
  • Delivering the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is complex because it needs to be stored at very cold temperatures and moved carefully, so it will only be able to be delivered from “Hospital Hubs” at first. Defrosting the vaccine takes a few hours and then additional time is required to prepare the vaccine for administering.
  • Stage one of the phased rollout of the vaccine will begin after it has been distributed.

CNN's Max Foster reports on UK's vaccine rollout plan:

11:07 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

McConnell reiterates need for bipartisan stimulus package

From CNN's Ali Main

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated the need for a bipartisan stimulus package before the end of the year, emphasizing that it must receive the President's signature to offer effective relief amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

McConnell said on Wednesday "we're seeing cracks starting to form in the Democratic leader's stone wall," referencing the Senate Democrats who joined with some of their Republican colleagues to put forth a bipartisan stimulus proposal aimed at breaking through the long-stalled negotiations. 

But, as he did yesterday, McConnell made it clear that his support is firmly behind the White House-backed plan that he's been drafting with input from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 

"I hope our Democratic colleagues will finally let Congress pass a bipartisan bill that the President will actually sign into law and do so soon," he said, noting that his proposal includes popular measures like a new round of Paycheck Protection Program and an extension of emergency federal unemployment benefits that are due to expire at the end of the year.  

Some context: Moments before McConnell's speech on the Senate floor, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that President Trump would sign the bill McConnell is spearheading. 

11:10 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

Cleveland Browns close practice facility after staffer tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

A staff member for the Cleveland Browns has tested positive for Covid-19, the team announced in a statement on Wednesday.

Cleveland has closed its practice facility and all meetings will take place remotely while the team conducts contact tracing.

The NFL prohibited all in-person team activities the last two days, citing the continued increase in Covid-19 cases around the country.  

"The team will continue to consult with the league and medical experts on the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority," the statement said.

The 8-3 Browns are scheduled to face the 8-3 Tennessee Titans on the road this Sunday. 

10:24 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

Coronavirus vaccine is safe for people previously infected with Covid-19, company official says

From CNN Health’s Amanda Sealy

The coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is safe for people who have already had Covid-19, according to BioNTech’s chief medical officer, Dr. Özlem Türeci. 

"We have included in our trial, people who were and who were not infected with SARS-CoV2 before, and we have not seen any differences in the safety profile,” Türeci told reporters during a briefing Wednesday shortly after the UK government announced it had granted authorization for use of the vaccine.

People who had Covid-19 likely have some immunity to the coronavirus, but it’s not clear how long that protection lasts. 

Pfizer announced last month that its vaccine was about 95% effective, when measured seven days after the second dose among people who have had Covid-19 and those who haven't. 

According to US Food and Drug Administration guidance to vaccine makers, "vaccine safety and COVID-19 outcomes in individuals with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, who might have been asymptomatic, are important to examine because screening for prior infection is unlikely to occur prior to administration of COVID-19 vaccines under [emergency use authorization]." When submitting data to the FDA, the agency says companies should break down the safety and efficacy data by "prior infection status at study entry."

Pfizer and BioNTech applied for an FDA emergency use authorization on November 20. An FDA advisory committee will meet December 10 to discuss the vaccine, and authorization could come shortly after.

10:08 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

Treasury secretary says Trump will sign the GOP Senate leader's stimulus plan

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on December 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on December 1, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters while walking into a House hearing just now that President Trump would sign a stimulus proposal that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has sent around.

"The President will sign the McConnell proposal that he put forward yesterday, and we look forward to making progress on that," he said.

When asked about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's own stimulus plan, Mnuchin said, "I’m not going to publicly comment on that but I did speak to her briefly and there’s also the other bipartisan proposal."

Remember: There are three separate attempts happening right now on Covid relief and all of them — at least at this point — are a long shot.

  • The bipartisan framework: These talks between Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy and Mitt Romney alongside Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin, Mark Warner and Jeanne Shaheen and Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, have been going on for weeks and were born out of a frustration that nothing was getting done. Eventually, a group of House members from the Problem Solver's Caucus got engaged making the effort bicameral. But, the $908 billion framework released Tuesday is just a starting point.
  • McConnell's plan: McConnell released his own new economic relief proposal Tuesday, a bill he has been working on closely with the White House, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Mnuchin. The bill includes many of the same provisions from the earlier, targeted $500 billion proposal that failed along party lines. It's not expected to win support of Democrats now.
  • The Democratic leadership offer to McConnell: While substantive discussions between Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, McConnell and McCarthy haven't occurred still, Democrats did quietly send an offer to Republican leaders Monday evening. The proposal was a non-starter in part because it didn't include the language on liability protections, a red line for McConnell. The existence of the offer became public after McConnell alluded to it during his news conference.
10:28 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

The US hit a record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations yesterday. Here's where things stand.

From CNN's Amanda Watts

A medical staff member takes a blood sample from a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas. 
A medical staff member takes a blood sample from a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas.  Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Although there has been good news this week as vaccines get closer to rolling out, Covid-19 figures in the US continue to show a dire situation.

The country set a record for the number of people currently hospitalized due to coronavirus on Tuesday, and cases continue to surge across the country.

Here's a looks at where things stand in the US:

Hospitalizations

  • At least 98,691 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized yesterday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. This is the highest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations the nation has ever experienced.
  • This is more than double the number of hospitalizations reported on Nov. 1, and more than triple the number of hospitalizations reported on Oct. 1.
  • Tuesday's hospitalizations is a more than 60% increase from peaks in the spring and summer.

Deaths

  • The US reported at least 2,597 new deaths on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • That's the second highest single day of deaths so far.
  • The US now averages about 1,531 reported deaths per day and has averaged more than 1,000 deaths for 21 consecutive days.

New cases

  • The United States reported at least 180,083 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, according to JHU data – the fifth highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic.
  • This means 39 of the top 40 single highest days of the pandemic have all occurred in October, November and December

Here's a look at how Covid-19 hospitalizations have increased over time:

10:10 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

Stocks open lower

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

US stocks kicked off the day lower on Wednesday, pulling back after both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose to record highs on Tuesday. 

The ADP employment report missed expectations before the open, saying 307,000 jobs were added to the US economy in November. The government’s official report is due on Friday at 8:30 am ET.

Here's where things opened:

  • The Dow opened down 0.6%, or 172 points
  • The S&P slipped 0.3%
  • The Nasdaq opened 0.6% lower