December 3 coronavirus news

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

Updated 0508 GMT (1308 HKT) December 4, 2020
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12:44 a.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Former US presidents volunteer to take coronavirus vaccine publicly to prove it's safe

From CNN’s Jamie Gangel

From left to right, former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton attend the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, on April 25, 2013.
From left to right, former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton attend the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, on April 25, 2013. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three former United States presidents -- Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- are volunteering to receive their Covid-19 vaccines on camera in order to promote public confidence in the medication's safety.

The three former presidents hope an awareness campaign to promote confidence in the vaccine's safety and effectiveness would be a powerful message as American public health officials try to convince the public to get vaccinated once the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes one. 

Freddy Ford, Bush's chief of staff, told CNN that the 43rd president had reached out to Dr. Anthony Fauci -- the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases -- and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to see how he could help promote the vaccine.

"A few weeks ago President Bush asked me to let Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx know that, when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated," Ford told CNN. "First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations. Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera."

Clinton's press secretary told CNN on Wednesday that he too would be willing to take the vaccine in a public setting in order to promote it.

"President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials. And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same," Angel Urena said.

It has been previously reported that Obama said in an interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison, scheduled to air Thursday, that if Fauci said a coronavirus vaccine is safe, he believes him.

12:13 a.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Half a million South Korean students sit a college entrance exam despite rising Covid cases

From CNN's Jake Kwon, Paula Hancocks and Yoonjung Seo

Half a million students will sit South Korea's notoriously difficult National College Entrance Exam on Thursday, a marathon day of tests that is the country's answer to the SATs and can determine a teenager's future.

The tests are so significant that, in normal years, the country rolls out extreme measures to support students -- office hours are changed to clear roads to avoid students getting stuck in traffic and flights are rescheduled to prevent the sound of plane engines disrupting the English listening test.

But this year, even greater planning has been required, as South Korea attempts to hold the exams while keeping teenagers safe from coronavirus. Students will have their temperature checked before entering the testing facilities and will need to wear masks throughout the exam.

Arrangements were even made for 3,775 students to take the tests from quarantine, and for the 35 students who tested positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday to sit the exam from a hospital bed.

The exams help decide whether students will make it into the most prestigious colleges and what career path they can take -- some options, such as medicine, will be shut off to students who don't get a high-enough score.

"Every citizen understands the exam to be a major national event," Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae told CNN in an exclusive interview ahead of the test.

Read the full story:

12:01 a.m. ET, December 3, 2020

LA is on track to run out of hospital beds by Christmas. The mayor has urged residents to "cancel everything"

From CNN's Sarah Moon

A nurse looks at his computer while working in a Covid-19 unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 19.
A nurse looks at his computer while working in a Covid-19 unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 19. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Los Angeles will run out of hospital beds by Christmas if the coronavirus continues to spread at its current, unprecedented rate, Mayor Eric Garcetti warned in a news conference Wednesday, calling on residents to “hunker down” and “cancel everything” to help stop the spread of the virus.

“The public health condition of our city is as dire as it was in March in the earliest days of this pandemic,” he said.

The number of daily coronavirus infections in Los Angeles have tripled since early November. Hospitalizations have more than tripled as well and are at a new peak, according to Garcetti.

On Tuesday, the county reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. The average daily cases have increased by 225% since early November, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. 

Garcetti urged residents to stay home as much as possible as the “choices between us are stark, between health and sickness, care and apathy, life and death.”

“It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything. If it isn’t essential, don’t do it,” Garcetti said. “Don’t meet up with others outside your household, don’t host that gathering, don’t attend a gathering.”

To date, Los Angeles County has confirmed a total of 414,185 coronavirus cases and 7,740 deaths. 

10:03 p.m. ET, December 2, 2020

UK didn't scrutinize Pfizer coronavirus vaccine trial data as carefully as US FDA is, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

British health regulators who authorized Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday did not scrutinize the trial data as carefully as the US Food and Drug Administration is doing in its review, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claimed.

“The way the FDA is, our FDA is doing it, is the correct way,” Fauci said in an interview on Fox News.
“We really scrutinize the data very carefully to guarantee to the American public that this is a safe and efficacious vaccine,” he said.
“I think if we did any less, we would add to the already existing hesitancy on the part of many people to take the vaccine because they're concerned about safety or they're concerned that we went too quickly."

Fauci said it’s important that Americans feel good about a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

“So, it's almost a damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, because if you go quickly and you do it superficially, people are not going to want to get vaccinated,” he said. 

“We have the gold standard of a regulatory approach with the FDA. The UK did not do it as carefully and they got a couple of days ahead,” he said. “I don't think that makes much difference. We'll be there. We'll be there very soon.”

9:30 p.m. ET, December 2, 2020

US reports highest number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day

From CNN’s Haley Brink

The United States has reported a record-high number of new Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

So far on Wednesday, 2,658 Covid-19 deaths have been reported, according to JHU. The US is currently averaging 1,531 new deaths per day, the university's data shows.

According to JHU data, the days with the highest number of new deaths are: 

  1. Dec. 2: 2,658
  2. April 15: 2,603
  3. Dec. 1: 2,597
  4. April 7: 2,570 
  5. April 21: 2,542 

Note: This is an ongoing tally and today's final numbers will not be available until overnight tonight.

9:34 p.m. ET, December 2, 2020

Hospitals stretched beyond "reasonable limit" as number of Covid-19 patients reaches 100,000

From CNN's Steve Almasy, Jason Hanna and Madeline Holcombe

While Americans are eagerly awaiting coronavirus vaccines to be authorized, doctors and nurses across the US are facing a difficult truth as hospitals try to find creative ways to handle the surging number of patients that exceeds 100,000 nationwide.

One county official in Wisconsin told CNN, "Our hospital ICUs and emergency rooms remain stretched beyond any reasonable limit and our healthcare workers as well as our patients need our help."

And the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that these next three months will be "the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation."

More than 100,200 patients were in US hospitals Wednesday -- the most counted during the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

And there was more sad news as more than 2,650 deaths were reported Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, another national high during the health crisis.

After they are authorized by the federal government, coronavirus vaccines should help blunt the pandemic, but experts think it won't be until spring before a lot of Americans can get them.

Read the full story:

8:51 p.m. ET, December 2, 2020

US surpasses 100,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Haley Brink

The United States has surpassed 100,000 current Covid-19 hospitalizations, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP). 

On Wednesday, at least 100,226 people were hospitalized with Covid-19, according to CTP. 

8:43 p.m. ET, December 2, 2020

Why was the UK first to authorize a coronavirus vaccine?

From CNN's Zamira Rahim

The UK became the first Western country to authorize a Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday, marking a pivotal moment in the global fight against coronavirus.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been granted emergency authorization by British regulators, and the first doses are expected to be rolled out from early next week.

Britain has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, with the highest death toll in Europe, and its government has been heavily criticized for its handling of the crisis.

But it has now leapfrogged both the European Union and the United States with this announcement.

Why was the UK first? The vaccine was granted emergency authorization in the UK by its independent regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which has played a crucial part in the process.

The MHRA began a rolling review of Pfizer and BioNTech data from October, with each "package" of data reviewed as soon as it became available. This allowed regulators to examine the data in detail before a final authorization application was submitted.

According to the MHRA, a rolling review "can be used to complete the assessment of a promising medicine or vaccine during a public health emergency in the shortest time possible."

This approach helped accelerate the authorization process and a formal review of all the necessary information began in the UK on November 23, leading to Wednesday's announcement.

Read the full story: