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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1:55 a.m. ET, December 4, 2020

US has its worst day yet, with more Covid-19 cases and deaths than at any stage of the pandemic

The United States recorded 217,664 new cases of Covid-19 and 2,879 related deaths on Thursday -- the most infections and fatalities in the country in a single day since the pandemic began.

Previously, the highest number of daily infections was 205,557, on November 27. The highest number of daily deaths was 2,804, recorded on Wednesday.

Thursday's figures raised the country's totals to at least 14,139,577 cases and 276,325 related deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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

See CNN's live tracker:

1:00 a.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Navajo Nation extends reservation lockdown for three more weeks

From CNN’s Andy Rose

In this May 24 photo, a sign warns non-residents to stay out of the Navajo Nation town of Tuba City during the 57-hour curfew in Arizona.
In this May 24 photo, a sign warns non-residents to stay out of the Navajo Nation town of Tuba City during the 57-hour curfew in Arizona. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The Navajo Nation has extended its 24/7 lockdown for another three weeks as Covid-19 numbers rise. The lockdown was originally set to expire this weekend.

“Our health care experts are now saying that the current wave or surge is far more severe and troublesome than the wave that we saw in April and May,” President Jonathan Nez said Thursday in a written statement.

Under the lockdown, Navajo citizens have been required to remain at home at all times, except for essential activities, emergencies, and outdoor exercise.

Essential businesses can be open only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Gatherings of more than five people are discouraged.

The Navajo Nation is located in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The Navajo Department of Health has confirmed more than 17,000 coronavirus cases with 663 deaths as of Thursday.

11:42 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Wuhan, the original epicenter of China's Covid-19 outbreak, wants tourists to come back

From CNN's Maggie Hiufu Wong

Wuhan, the Chinese city most closely associated with the outbreak of Covid-19, has launched a promotional video to attract travelers to experience its beauty.

Posted on the Wuhan Culture and Tourism Bureau's social media page, it highlights the best of the city, from its surreal floating forest in the Zhangdu Lake Wetland to the lit-up historical Yellow Crane Tower, along with Wuhan locals eating noodles.

"Wuhan never hesitates to show its beauty, and those who love it deeply hope that more people can understand it," says the Facebook post.

"From the myriad twinkling lights along the Yangtze River and the amazing dance and music from the Zhiyin cruise, to the glittering light and beautiful voices from the livehouse......give me five! Everyone! Looking forward to meeting you in Wuhan."

Rise in tourism appeal: As the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, Wuhan implemented a 76-day lockdown from January 23 to April 8. Not only did the lockdown slow infection rates significantly -- the city hasn't reported a local case since May -- but it surprisingly boosted the city's appeal.

According to a joint study carried out in April by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Tourism Research Center and Tencent Culture and Tourism Industry Research Center, Wuhan was the top destination Chinese citizens wanted to visit after the crisis subsided.

11:24 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

South Korea reports its highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since March

From CNN’s Jake Kwon in Seoul and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

South Korea reported 629 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday -- the country's highest number of daily infections since March 2.

Of Thursday's new cases, 600 were locally transmitted and 29 were imported from abroad, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency in a press release.

The majority of infections -- 463 cases -- were found in the Seoul Metropolitan Area. Seven additional deaths were also reported.

The new figures raise the country's total to 36,332 cases and 536 virus-related deaths.

11:43 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

UK receives its first batch of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Jonny Hallam in Atlanta

A worker near the Pfizer facility in Puurs, Belgium, on December 3.
A worker near the Pfizer facility in Puurs, Belgium, on December 3. Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine arrived in the UK on Thursday -- a day after the country approved the vaccine for distribution, according to British media.

Pfizer and Downing Street declined to comment to CNN, citing security reasons.

The UK’s Department of Health told CNN that up to 800,000 doses of the vaccine are being made available next week. 

The vaccines were carried by a fleet of unmarked trucks through the Eurotunnel from Belgium and are on their way to undisclosed storage facilities in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, according to CNN affiliate ITV News.

The in-demand vaccine will be distributed from these storage facilities early next week to 50 hospital hubs acting as vaccination points, according to the health ministry.

Earlier on Thursday, England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said "We expect to receive (the Pfizer vaccine) very shortly in the UK, and I do mean hours, not days," in an interview with BBC Radio.

First vaccine approval: The UK became the first western country to authorize use of a coronavirus vaccine. The country has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer jab, enough to vaccinate 20 million people -- roughly a third of the UK's population -- as the vaccination involves two shots administered at least three weeks apart.

10:40 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Michigan to use National Guard to help distribute vaccines

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that the state will look to the Michigan National Guard to help distribute Covid-19 vaccines when they become available.

The National Guard will provide logistical and transportation support, according to a release from the Governor’s office. 

This comes after Whitmer secured an extension of Michigan National Guard forces for Covid-19 response through March 31, 2021. 

“The Michigan National Guard continues to be a crucial part of our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. I want to thank our men and women in uniform for their dedication and round-the-clock work to protect the people of our state by expanding testing in our communities and ensuring they have what they need to get through this crisis,” Whitmer said. 
11:43 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Los Angeles County sets another daily record for new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks

Cars lined up at Dodger Stadium for Covid-19 testing in downtown Los Angeles on December 2.
Cars lined up at Dodger Stadium for Covid-19 testing in downtown Los Angeles on December 2. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Los Angeles County reported an additional 7,854 Covid-19 cases Thursday, breaking the record for the highest number of new cases there since the start of the pandemic for the second time in a week. This brings the total number of cases in the county to 421,881.

Health officials also reported 2,572 people hospitalized with coronavirus in L.A. County, surpassing yesterday's all-time high of 2,439. If the rate of hospitalizations continues on its current trajectory, the county's health care system could soon be overwhelmed, officials warned.

"These are the highest numbers we have seen," said County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis. "Actions need to be taken now and on a daily basis."

County health officials reported 44 new deaths Thursday, raising the number of people who have died due to Covid-19 to 7,345.

While there are 1,119 beds currently available in intensive care units in the county, officials warned the ICU bed capacity is bound to drop below 15% at some point next week. Passing that threshold will prompt stricter stay-at-home orders, as outlined by Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday afternoon.

"A continued surge in cases and hospitalizations is not sustainable because as hospitalizations increase sharply, the health care system can become overwhelmed," the county's health department said in a news release.

Los Angeles recently imposed a curfew and closed all in-person restaurant dining to reduce the transmission of the virus. Some businesses that are not adhering to public health orders by closing their doors or limiting capacity in line with public health directives are now receiving citations, the county said.

11:44 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

US sets new record for Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Haley Brink

Medical staff in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, in Houston, Texas.
Medical staff in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, in Houston, Texas. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

The United States set a record for the number of people currently hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

On Thursday, 100,667 people were hospitalized with Covid-19, according to CTP. This is the second consecutive day that the US has surpassed 100,000 current hospitalizations.

According to CTP data, the highest hospitalization numbers are:

  1. Dec .3: 100,667
  2. Dec. 2: 100,226
  3. Dec. 1: 98,691
  4. Nov. 30: 96,053
  5. Nov. 29: 93,265
11:45 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Moderna to have up to 125 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine available globally in early 2021

From CNN’s Samira Said and Maggie Fox

Vaccine maker Moderna said Thursday it expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine available by the first quarter of 2021, with most of those designated for the US market.

The company has applied for emergency use authorization for its vaccine from the US Food and Drug Administration and FDA advisers are scheduled to discuss the application Dec. 17. Moderna has also applied to European drug regulators for conditional approval.

“Today, Moderna re-affirmed its expectation of having approximately 20 million doses available in the U.S. by the end of 2020,” the company said in a statement.

“Additionally, the Company expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses available globally in the first quarter of 2021, with 85-100 million of those available in the US and 15-25 million of those available outside of the US. These expected first quarter doses are inclusive within the 500 million to up to 1 billion doses that the Company expects to manufacture globally in 2021.”

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses per person, with the shots spaced four weeks apart.