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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11:52 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

CDC: The best way to protect yourself and others is to postpone holiday travel

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Travelers pass by a sign advertising hand sanitizer at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on November 29, 2020 in SeaTac, Washington. 
Travelers pass by a sign advertising hand sanitizer at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on November 29, 2020 in SeaTac, Washington.  David Ryder/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends postponing travel over the upcoming winter holidays for people to keep themselves and their families as safe as possible.

“CDC recommends that the best way to protect yourself and others is to postpone travel and stay home,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, during a news briefing on Wednesday. 

If people do decide to travel, “CDC recommends that travelers consider getting tested one to three days before travel,” Walke said. “And then again three to five days after travel.” 

This should be combined with reducing non-essential activities for a full seven days after travel, he said. For those who do not get tested after travelling, CDC recommends that non-essential activities are reduced for ten days. 

Walke said if Covid-19 symptoms are experienced at any point during or after travelling, people should follow CDC or local guidance about what to do if a person gets sick.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with reducing non-essential activities, symptom screening and continuing with precautions like wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing it can make travel safer,” Walke said. 
11:38 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

More than 270,000 people in the US have died from coronavirus

There have been at least 13,741,687 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 270,881 people have died since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

So far today, Johns Hopkins has reported 20,383 new cases and 239 reported deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

11:55 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

Here's the World Health Organization's latest guidelines on mask-wearing

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

A school official checks the body temperature of students wearing face masks as they enter a school amid the coronavirus pandemic in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 25, 2020.
A school official checks the body temperature of students wearing face masks as they enter a school amid the coronavirus pandemic in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 25, 2020. Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization updated its guidelines on wearing face masks, recommending that people 12 years and older who are living in areas where Covid-19 is spreading should wear masks in indoor or outdoor settings where physical distancing of at least 3 feet cannot be maintained.

"A mask alone, even when it is used correctly, is insufficient to provide adequate protection or source control. Other infection prevention and control (IPC) measures include hand hygiene, physical distancing of at least 1 metre (3 ft), avoidance of touching one’s face, respiratory etiquette, adequate ventilation in indoor settings, testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation," WHO's new study said.

WHO also recommends that a mask should be worn when people visit your home if there's not adequate ventilation, or the ability to keep a distance of 3 feet or more.

Additionally, WHO suggests that people with higher risk of severe complications from the virus should wear medical masks when physical distancing of at least 3 feet cannot be maintained. They also advised “universal” wearing of medical masks in health care facilities, including when caring for other patients, as well as with visitors and when congregating in common areas such as cafeterias and staff rooms.

For children, however, WHO advises that children up to age 5 should not wear masks for source control, and for children ages 6 to 11, a risk-based approach should be applied to the decision to use a mask.

As for the use of non-medical masks, WHO says homemade fabric masks should have a three-layer structure (based on the fabric used), while factory-made fabric masks should meet the minimum thresholds related to three essential parameters: filtration, breathability and fit. Exhalation valves are discouraged because they bypass the filtration function of the fabric mask, rendering it unserviceable for source control.

WHO also added that people doing vigorous physical activity should not wear masks, citing some associated risks, particularly for people with asthma. 

11:59 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020

New York City reports a nearly 5% Covid-19 positivity rate

From CNN's Sheena Jones

A traveler places a swab in a tube after self testing for COVID-19 at a NYC Health + Hospitals mobile testing site in New York's Penn Station on Nov. 24, 2020.
A traveler places a swab in a tube after self testing for COVID-19 at a NYC Health + Hospitals mobile testing site in New York's Penn Station on Nov. 24, 2020. Mary Altaffer/AP

The percentage of people that tested positive for Covid-19 in New York City increased to 4.76% on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. That is up from 4.14% reported Tuesday.

De Blasio warned that the city's Covid-19 indicators could be changing as the second wave is bearing down.

At least 146 people have been admitted into the hospital for suspected cases of Covid-19 and the confirmed positivity rate is 48.34%, the mayor said. The threshold for hospitalizations is 200 which would trigger more restrictions, according to de Blasio.

This comes after the city says they will pay close attention to hospitalizations as hospitals in the NYC Health & Hospital systems are about two-thirds full, Dr. Mitchell Katz said Tuesday. 

Katz added that none of the 11 hospitals within the NYC health & Hospital system are overwhelmed as of Tuesday, but “if there is a major increase of cases we are prepared to handle that,” he said. 

The city's 7-day average of new cases stands at about 1,809 – that is above the 550 case threshold, de Blasio said.

Note: These numbers were released by the city’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.

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.