December 4 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Emma Reynolds, Hannah Strange, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020
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9:37 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Parts of the US medical system are under strain and may cause temporary lockdowns, Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci. Source: CNN

The sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the US has placed the health care system under strain -- which may cause temporary lockdowns, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, told CNN.

Fauci specifically referenced conversations he's had with medical colleagues in Los Angeles, California, where the health care system "is really strained."

"There are some situations where they will be doing temporary lockdowns because they cannot strain the health care system any more," Fauci said. "The unimaginable thing, that no one wants to see happen, that when you have such a strain on the beds, and on the personnel, the health care personnel, that you are going to deprive people from the kind of care they need."

Fauci added: "If it requires doing more drastic things, or draconian things, like maybe a temporary shutdown some areas, I think some of the areas of the country are thinking about that, I know as a fact. In California, in some places, they are thinking about that."

Watch:

9:38 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Authorities are worried a Thanksgiving and Christmas surge in Covid-19 cases could be dire

Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci. Source: CNN

Another 500,000-plus people in the US could die of Covid-19 between now and April, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Speaking to CNN during its global coronavirus town hall, Fauci said the number of US fatalities could get as bad as that predicted by a reliable model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

That model predicts another 539,000 people could be killed by the virus.

"We have a number of conflating events occurring," Fauci said. "We have the surge that we know has gone on before the Thanksgiving holiday -- that very steep inflection of cases that has led to the record numbers."

Fauci said the US was yet to see the effects of any Thanksgiving holiday-related surge.

"That may peak two to three weeks from now, and they will cusp at the Christmas holiday," Fauci told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "We are really very concerned if you take the Thanksgiving surge, the Christmas surge -- by the time you get to December and the beginning of January, we very well could see the numbers you just mentioned."

However, Fauci said the country could stem the tide if the public wears masks, practices social distancing and avoids crowds.

"Those simple things alone, despite the enormity of the problem, can make a difference. Because it has been proven it does make a difference," he said. "So we all need to pull together to do that because as I've said so many times, help is on the way. Vaccines are imminent. We will be starting to get vaccine doses in people's arms by the middle and end of December, and then more in January."

Watch:

9:28 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

There's a plan to overcome Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in communities of color, Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci. Source: CNN

There is a plan to help address Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in communities of color across the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, told CNN during its global coronavirus town hall.

Aside from public service announcements, he said the plan involves "engaging through our community groups that are associated with our clinical trial apparatus, and we do it by engaging leaders in the community."

"There already is a plan to get people who are respected by the community -- athletes, faith-based organizations, personalities, celebrities -- to go out there and get people to be vaccinated," Fauci said. "And you know what would be a really terrible shame, if we had the African American and Latino community, who are disproportionately suffering more from this outbreak, if they did not take a vaccine which we know to be extraordinarily efficacious and preventing clinical Covid-19 disease. It would be paradoxical and very much of a shame."

Watch:

9:19 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Here's how airlines will help deliver the Covid-19 vaccine around the US

CNN's Pete Muntean.
CNN's Pete Muntean. Source: CNN

CNN's Pete Muntean today visited a cold storage facility in Philadelphia which will be one of many used to temporarily store the Covid-19 vaccine before it is placed on planes.

"Out here on the floor is a specialized refrigerated, battery-powered shipping container," Muntean said. "Airlines say they already have the infrastructure in place for a mission of a lifetime. American Airlines says that it has a plan in place that once the vaccine is FDA approved, they can begin shipping it within 24 hours."

Watch:

9:23 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Fauci: States will play a big role in coronavirus vaccine distribution

Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci. Source: CNN

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the preeminent infectious disease expert in the United States, said states will have the most responsibility when it comes to distributing vaccines for Covid-19.

Fauci was asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper about President-elect Joe Biden's assertion today that the federal government has "no detailed plan" to distribute vaccines.

While the federal government will be responsible for sending vaccines nationwide, states and individual localities will play a major role in distribution.

"It is really going to be at the level of the state," Fauci said. "The individual states and localities will make their decisions and (handle) the distribution the way they normally would distribute something like influenza vaccine. That's really going to be the way ... very much locally mandated from the bottle to the arm of the person."

Watch:

8:03 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Brazil surpasses 6.5 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Flora Charner

Brazil surpassed 6.5 million cases of Covid-19 on Friday and remains the third worst-hit country after the United States and India.

​On Friday, Brazil recorded 46,884 new infections, raising the total number of cases in the country to 6,533,968, according to data released by the health ministry.

Brazil also registered 694 deaths Friday, bringing the country’s total to 175,964.

7:46 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Mask use can reduce the number of new Covid-19 infections by close to 50%, study finds

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Mandatory mask usage in parts of Germany last spring helped significantly reduce the number of new Covid-19 infections, a team of German researchers reported in a new analysis.

The team used public data on coronavirus cases to compare regions with and without mandatory mask policies last April.

“Depending on the region we consider, we find that face masks reduced the number of newly registered severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infections between 15% and 75% over a period of 20 days after their mandatory introduction,” researchers wrote. “Assessing the credibility of the various estimates, we conclude that face masks reduce the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 47%.”

The study, which was published Thursday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that certain age groups benefited more from mask usage.

The researchers looked at data from mask use in Jena, a city in central Germany, after a mandatory mask policy took effect between April 1-10. 

They compared Jena’s mandatory mask policy with a control group, a similar city that experienced comparable growth in coronavirus cases before the mandatory mask policy in Jena.

They found a “significant difference” in Covid-19 case reductions in Jena.

“Our findings indicate that the early introduction of face masks in Jena has resulted in a drop in newly registered COVID-19 cases of around 75% after 20 days,” the team reported.

“Put simply, if the control region observes 100 new infections over a period of 20 days, the mask region observes only 25 cases,” they wrote.

“This drop is greatest, by more than 90%, for the age group 60 years and above.”

The study also concluded that, given the low cost compared to other public health measures, masks are a cost-effective way to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The analysis did not look at the different types of face masks and whether that could have affected the conclusion. 

Previous studies on the use of face masks in public have also they reduce the spread of Covid -19. 

7:13 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

New Jersey governor says the state doesn't have the funds to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine

From Sahar Akbarzai

In this Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during his 2021 budget address at SHI Stadium at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.
In this Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during his 2021 budget address at SHI Stadium at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the state doesn’t have the money to distribute millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

In order to do so, there needs to be a robust federal partnership and funding from the Trump administration and the incoming Biden administration to make distribution possible, Murphy told CNN.

“The complexity of the distribution that’s still ahead of us cannot be underestimated…and the expense associated with it can’t be underestimated,” Murphy said.

The governor said that the recent surge in the state is because of “a combination of pandemic fatigue, private setting transmission, cold weather ... Holidays stacked up one after the other."

"I also think there is some amount of, the vaccine is coming and it's going to work I can let my hair down, it's only a few months. I read it the exact opposite way. Hang in there and keep your guard up, it's only a few months and I think that's what we are up against," he said.

“It’s bad and I fear it’s going to get worse, the next couple of months is going to be really, really tough,” Murphy added.  

6:14 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Florida hospital preparing to vaccinate employees using phased approach

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Davis Wein, an emergency medicine specialist walks, in the parking garage that was turned into a series of Covid-19 test tents at Tampa General Hospital in Florida on August 19.
Dr. Davis Wein, an emergency medicine specialist walks, in the parking garage that was turned into a series of Covid-19 test tents at Tampa General Hospital in Florida on August 19. Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Tampa General Hospital in Florida is preparing to vaccinate its staff with Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine using a phased approach, according to Tampa General Hospital spokesperson Phil Buck.

The hospital is expecting its first shipment of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on or before Dec. 15, if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes it. Buck said the hospital is one of five in Florida that will participate in the state’s Covid-19 vaccine pilot program.

Tampa General Hospital has acquired several large ultra-cold freezers to store the vaccine. They can hold about 30,000 doses each.

The hospital will vaccinate staff based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the number of doses it receives.