December 5 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brett McKeehan and Eoin McSweeney, CNN

Updated 0546 GMT (1346 HKT) December 6, 2020
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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.

Read more:

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.

Read more:

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.

Read more:

2:18 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

A record 227,885 cases of Covid-19 were identified in the United States on Friday

Cars line up for rapid Covid-19 tests in Jericho, New York, on December 3.
Cars line up for rapid Covid-19 tests in Jericho, New York, on December 3. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At least 227,885 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in the US on Friday, a new single-day record and the fourth time the country has topped 200,000 cases in a single day.

The previous record was set Thursday.

Another 2,607 virus-related deaths were recorded, bringing the nationwide total to 278,932 fatalities.

Since the pandemic began, at least 14,367,462 infections have been identified in the country.

Track cases here:

2:19 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

First US shipments of coronavirus vaccine will fall short

From CNN's Annie Grayer

This May 4 file photo shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. 
This May 4 file photo shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP

State health departments and governors' offices across the US are finally being told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed how many doses of the coronavirus vaccine they will initially be receiving once the vaccine is authorized -- and it's not enough.

With the Pfizer vaccine emergency use authorization expected later this month, and perhaps also for the Moderna vaccine, states are learning there's not enough for them to fully vaccinate those designated as their first and top priority.

Earlier this week, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that the very first batch of Americans to get vaccinated should be frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Together, they add up to about 24 million people.

Federal officials estimate about 40 million vaccine doses will be available by the end of the month if both Moderna and Pfizer get US Food and Drug Administration authorization -- only enough to vaccinate 20 million people in the country, because two doses are needed for each person.

Read more:

9:16 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

Moderna Covid-19 vaccine trial participant recounts her experience

Susan Froehlich and her husband Dr. Thomas Froehlich speak to Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta about their experiences while participating during the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine trial.
Susan Froehlich and her husband Dr. Thomas Froehlich speak to Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta about their experiences while participating during the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine trial. CNN

A Moderna Covid-19 vaccine participant discussed her experience after taking two shots of the experimental drug in August and September.

Susan Froehlich recounted the illness she experienced after taking the second shot, which she said could have been a placebo and not the vaccine.

"I woke up with a horrible stomach ache and headache, and it was like I was at the beginning stages of a bad flu," Froehlich told CNN during its global coronavirus town hall. "And so, I didn't have anything to take for it at the time so I was in a lot of pain until about four hours later, when my husband woke up and I had him go get me some Naproxen."

Froehlich said she took 440 milligrams of Naproxen, which cleared her symptoms but "it was like every part of my body was hurting for about four hours."

"If I hadn't Naproxen right away, I think those symptoms would've abated more quickly. But my muscles hurt, my joints hurt, my bones hurt, my jaw hurt. But it was for such a short time," she said.

12:48 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

US health secretary takes thinly veiled swipe at China over coronavirus information

From CNN's Maggie Fox

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 19.
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 19. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday attacked the World Health Organization and -- without naming it -- China for what he said was a lack of timely sharing of information about the origins and spread of the coronavirus.

In recorded remarks played at the United Nations General Assembly, Azar complained about “dereliction of duty” while praising the US for speeding coronavirus vaccines to market.

“The World Health Assembly directed WHO to undertake an investigation into the origins of the virus, but the results are not expected until next year -- an unacceptable timeframe,” Azar said.
“Even worse, international experts will be expected just to review the conclusions of one country’s experts -- far from the kind of collaborative spirit we need to get to the truth,” he added, using the non-diplomatic language that has characterized the Trump administration.
“The key issue is not where the virus first appeared -- it is whether information about the virus was shared in a timely and transparent way. Sadly, the necessary information sharing did not happen, and this dereliction of duty has been absolutely devastating for the entire globe.”

Azar did not mention that the US withdrew its support for WHO under President Donald Trump, or Trump’s constant barrage of blame, accusing China of spreading the virus.

“Sadly, some countries have also attempted to take advantage of the pandemic to pursue economic, diplomatic, or security gains with hard-hit countries. The United States has taken a different path. Our work on vaccines for Covid-19 has been fully transparent, and we will follow all the usual and stringent American safety and quality protocols to produce countermeasures that the whole world can trust. The United States will make these tools available to our partners and friends once we take care of the American people,” Azar said.

He did not say who he meant by “some countries.”

“The United States is providing to countries combating the virus more funding, equipment, and support than any other nation. This is what the United States does in times of crisis, because we have a positive vision and a commitment to strengthen our friends, not take advantage of their misfortunes,” Azar concluded.

11:26 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Los Angeles mayor says surge in Covid-19 cases is "greatest threat to life" ever faced by city

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Los Angeles County set records Friday for the highest number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations for the third time in a single week.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday’s numbers would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago, and called the surge “the greatest threat to life” the city has ever faced.

"We’re on the verge of 10,000 cases daily with the numbers that we’re seeing this week," Garcetti said. "Getting this virus under control is mission crucial for Los Angeles."

The county reported 8,860 new cases and 2,668 hospitalizations on Friday, according to a press release from the local Department of Public Health.

Los Angeles is projected to reach half a million coronavirus cases by the end of this year, according to Garcetti.

Public health officials are urging residents not to travel this holiday season, and stay home if possible.

"Los Angeles County continues to experience a pandemic that is moving in a direction that will cause significantly more suffering and deaths,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “As case numbers and hospitalizations continue to rapidly increase, the number of individuals who will experience severe health outcomes will also increase.”

Once 85% of ICU beds are filled in the Southern California region, Los Angeles County will impose additional closures to some businesses including personal care services like nail and hair salons, and family entertainment centers like zoos and museums.

Garcetti said he expects the region will pass the 85% ICU bed capacity threshold in the next few days.


12:42 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020

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

Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci. 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."