December 5 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brett McKeehan and Eoin McSweeney, CNN

Updated 0546 GMT (1346 HKT) December 6, 2020
20 Posts
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11:04 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

Southern California region could face stay-at-home order due to strain on health care system

From CNN’s Alta Spells

Pedestrians cross a street in downtown Los Angeles, on Thursday, December 3.
Pedestrians cross a street in downtown Los Angeles, on Thursday, December 3. David Swanson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Southern California counties could face a stay-at-home order after the percentage of available intensive care unit beds in the region dropped below 15%, the threshold set by new measure announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this week. 

On Friday night, the percentage of available ICU beds in the Southern California region dropped to 13.1%, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Newsom divided California into five regions in order to best monitor and regulate Covid-19 in the state: Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

The Southern California Region includes 11 counties: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. 

The new Regional Stay Home Order, which is aimed at stopping the Covid-19 surge and preventing overwhelming regional ICU capacity in the state, "prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others," among other things according to the order.

9:26 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

NFL charging ahead with Super Bowl dreams as Covid-19 threatens to derail path to Tampa

From CNN's Calum Trenaman

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports

Super Bowl LV is scheduled to take place in Tampa, Florida on Feb. 7, but right now the NFL's path threatens to be derailed by a global pandemic running wild in the US.

According to Johns Hopkins University's tally, there have been over 14 million cases of coronavirus in the US and more than 270,000 people have died.

An update from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) on Friday projected more than 500,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus by April.

Every loss has a ripple effect, devastating families and communities.

Professional sports leagues, including the NFL, have had to make tough choices, balancing the need to keep their players safe and bring in revenue.

"It's not about whether or not guys want to play," said Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III this week after Wednesday's 19-14 defeat by the Pittsburgh Steelers. "It's about whether or not our safety is actually being taken into account. I can't say much more than that."

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8:42 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

Kansas man pens powerful obituary after losing father to Covid-19

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Courtney Farr says one of the hardest parts of losing his father to Covid-19 earlier this week was knowing he wasn't surrounded by his loved ones in his last moments.

"When my mother passed away about two years ago, I was able to sit with her ... and I was able to hold her hand and caress her face, I was able to be present with her," Farr told CNN Friday night. "And I was able to comfort her the same way that she had comforted me so many times in my life.

"With my father, we couldn't do that, because he was in isolation," Farr said.

He says his family was able to say goodbye to his father, Marvin James Farr, virtually, the morning before he died.

"I'm glad I got to see him one last time, to tell him how much I loved him, how much he mattered to me. But in that moment, what you want to be able to do is you want to be able to reach out and hold his hand, to touch him, to spend as much time with him as you can."

Farr's story echoes the experiences of thousands of other families across the US who have had to say a final goodbye to parents, siblings and other family members through a device because of Covid-19 isolation protocols.

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8:16 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

As hospitals start to max out, medical workers beg officials for new Covid-19 mandates

From CNN's Holly Yan

Dr. Cleavon Gilman wants a temporary stay-at-home order. Without it, he says, "the virus will implement its own shutdown."
Dr. Cleavon Gilman wants a temporary stay-at-home order. Without it, he says, "the virus will implement its own shutdown." Dr. Cleavon Gilman

Across the US, the numbers of daily Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths just reached all-time highs.

And the crisis is only going to get worse.

"The reality is, December and January and February are going to be rough times," said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Cleavon Gilman served in the Iraq War, but he said that doesn't compare to the battle he's fighting as an emergency room physician in Arizona.

"This pandemic is a lot worse than being in Iraq just because when you're in a war zone, you can leave that war zone. You can fly out of Iraq; you're OK here in the United States," the Yuma doctor said.

Now Gilman and other health care workers are pleading for more public safety rules -- such as mask mandates or stay-at-home orders -- to prevent hospitals from bursting past capacity.

"You can't overwhelm a hospital and expect that care is not going to be compromised as a result," Gilman said.

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7:46 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

Christmas will put "additional pressure" on health services in the New Year, UK's chief medical officers warn

From CNN's Eoin McSweeney

Britain's Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London, on November 23.
Britain's Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London, on November 23. Henry Nicholls/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Despite the UK becoming the first western country to license a vaccine against Covid, the country's four chief medical officers have warned that it will only have a "marginal impact" and festive gathering are likely to put additional pressure on the National Health Service (NHS).

In a joint letter to healthcare colleagues, England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and others from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, said health services needed to be ready for the "social mixing which occurs around Christmas."

"Although the very welcome news about vaccines means that we can look forward to 2021 with greater optimism, vaccine deployment will have only a marginal impact in reducing numbers coming into the health service with COVID over the next three months."

It is likely that by the spring the effects of the vaccination will begin to be felt and deploying vaccines safely and rapidly presents "a very considerable logistical exercise", they added.

The letter praised workers across the health system, who have been "remarkable in their contributions to researching this new disease," but that even once full vaccination has occured, Covid-19 is not expected to disappear.

"It is therefore absolutely essential that we use the next months to learn as much as we can as we expect COVID to be less common in the future," they said in the letter. "This will allow us to have the best chance of a strong evidence base for managing it over the coming years."

The warning comes after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was granted emergency authorization by British regulators on Wednesday, with the first doses expected to be rolled out from early next week.

7:33 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

Record number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care in Japan

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Pedestrians walk at a crossing in Tokyo's shopping district of Ginza on July 25, 2020
Pedestrians walk at a crossing in Tokyo's shopping district of Ginza on July 25, 2020 KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Japan has a record number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care since the pandemic began, according to its health ministry.

The number of daily Covid-19 related deaths has matched the previous record from May 8 at 43 deceased. 

Japan's Health Ministry also announced 2,432 new coronavirus infections for Friday.

The country’s total nationwide infection stands 158,386 (157,674 on land and 712 on Diamond Princess cruise ship) and death toll to 2,296 (2,283 on land and 13 on cruise ship.)

A further 131,176 patients have been already discharged from the hospitals.

Tokyo reported 449 new cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infections there to 42,793 and 53 patients are in critical condition.

Osaka reported 394 news cases while Hokkaido counted 212.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference Friday night that "the new infections and severe cases of the coronavirus infection are hitting record high levels and the situation continues to be extremely alarming. We see the strain on the hospital beds for severe cases and we are dealing with the situation with a full awareness of the crisis."

7:10 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

Hawaii is offering free round trips to remote workers who want to live there temporarily

From CNN's Alaa Elassar

Ho'okipa Beach Park in Maui, Hawaii
Ho'okipa Beach Park in Maui, Hawaii Shutterstock

What better way to survive a pandemic than to do it on a beach in Hawaii?

For anyone who finds the idea dreamy, Hawaii is offering free round trip tickets to Oahu to out-of-state remote workers who want to live and work there while contributing to the state's economy.

The state launched the temporary residency program, known as "Movers and Shakas," in collaboration with schools and businesses. It's accepting its first group of applicants until December 15.

"Movers and Shakas is a small step towards economic recovery and diversifying our economy," Jason Higa, the group's founder, told CNN.

"The pandemic," he said, "has normalized remote work for the foreseeable future, so we believe this situation presents an opportunity for local residents to return home, and for out of state professionals to experience Hawaii, not as tourists, but as contributing members of our community."

Fifty people will be chosen for the first cohort. Later applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis. To apply, you must be a remote worker and at least 18 years old.

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5:58 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

Covid-19 is raging through overcrowded California prisons

From CNN's Isaac Engelberg

As Covid-19 infections surge across California, state correctional facilities have recorded more than 4,000 active cases among inmates and another 1,430 among staff -- the highest numbers recorded since the pandemic's start.

That means California's total number of inmate infections is now up to more than 22,300, including 90 deaths.

That translates to about 227 Covid-19 cases per 1,000 over the course of the pandemic -- or some 20% of the total inmate population, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Statewide among the public, that number is about 32 cases per 1,000 people.

The soaring numbers across prison facilities come as local and state officials are also trying to control a rampant spread across California's communities. On Friday, the state shattered its previous case record, reporting more than 22,000 new cases. Hospitalizations are also at record-high levels, with more than 9,900 Covid-19 patients across the state -- about 2,200 of whom are in intensive care units.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, saying the state was at "a tipping point in our fight against the virus," announced a strict regional stay-at-home order this week, which will go into effect 48 hours after ICU capacity drops below 15% in one of five regions, Northern California, the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, the San Joaquin Valley or Southern California.

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4:00 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

US reported more than 10,000 Covid-19 deaths in four days. And the impact of Thanksgiving will only make things worse, experts warn

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Travelers wait in line for security screening at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, on November 29.
Travelers wait in line for security screening at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, on November 29. David Ryder/Getty Images

Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are at record-high levels nationwide, and officials expect the US will soon bear the full brunt of another surge of infections fueled by Thanksgiving gatherings.

"We have not yet seen the full effect of a potential surge upon a surge," Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Friday night. "The travel associated with Thanksgiving, the congregating at family and social gatherings with people indoors, sometimes without masks. So that may peak two to three weeks from now."

And that surge will come right as travel and social gatherings will likely pick up again for the Christmas holiday.

"So, we're really very concerned," Fauci said.

The bleak forecast comes as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine advisers are scheduled to meet to discuss Pfizer's and Moderna's applications for emergency use authorization of their Covid-19 vaccines, which some state leaders say they're expecting to get the first doses of in the coming weeks.

But health officials warn that while some Americans may receive a vaccine by the end of the year, the country likely won't see any meaningful effect until late spring.

In the meantime, experts project an incredibly challenging next few months.

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