December 7 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, December 8, 2020
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6:00 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Trump administration denies turning down opportunity to buy more Pfizer vaccine doses earlier this year

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Trump administration officials denied Monday they turned down an opportunity to buy more doses of the Pfizer vaccine months ago.

The New York Times reported Monday that Pfizer had made the offer to sell the US government additional doses in late summer, but the newspaper said the administration turned it down.

Senior members of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed spoke about the issue on a background briefing call with reporters.

One senior administration official who did not want to be identified said the administration is “in the middle of a negotiation right now” and can’t talk publicly about it.

“But we feel absolutely confident” that there will be a “sufficient number of doses to vaccinate all Americans who desire one before the end of the second quarter of 2021,” the official said.

The initial US contract, an advanced purchase agreement with Pfizer, was signed on July 22, the administration official said. That agreement was for 100 million doses with the option to purchase more. The 100 million doses would be enough to vaccinate 50 million people, because it’s a two-dose vaccine.

The administration said it is continuing to negotiate with several companies working on Covid-19 vaccines. The US has the opportunity to purchase 3 billion doses of vaccine, among all the contracts the federal government currently has with various companies. That would in theory be enough to vaccinate the US population several times over.

5:31 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Operation Warp Speed announces federal data system to track Covid-19 vaccinations

From CNN’s Samira Said

Operation Warp Speed officials outlined a new federal system Monday to track information about who has been vaccinated against coronavirus, but said it will not include information that can personally identify people who have been immunized.

The data clearinghouse will be populated with information provided by states. 

State immunization systems will provide information about who has been vaccinated, and those systems will feed into a federal data system, Army Col. RJ Mikesh, the program's information technology lead, told reporters. 

"The data clearinghouse is something we established. It's new as part of this pandemic response," Mikesh said.

The program is signing data use agreements with jurisdictions that will allow it to receive details such as who the patient is, which vaccine they received, and which administration site provided the vaccine. It can handle personal identifying information, but the plan is not to include such information, Mikesh said.

Each state or jurisdiction can decide what information to share, so the information will not be uniform. Identifying information such as Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers will not be shared, but states can share information like date of birth, race and ethnicity. 

"The CDC took a lot of time to understand what those data elements were. They are truly the minimum data requirements of what would be asked for in a pandemic response," Mikesh said, addressing concerns about privacy.  

"The information that's personal, if that is allowed to be shared, is really there to help us with that first dose verification so that we can understand what vaccine the person received, and when they receive it," he said.

Most states have submitted their data use agreements, but a handful are still being worked out, and should be finished this week, officials said on the call. 

6:35 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Trump will sign executive order tomorrow to prioritize shipment of Covid-19 vaccine to Americans 

From CNN's Jim Acosta 

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Tuesday aimed at prioritizing the shipment of the coronavirus vaccine to Americans before other nations, a White House official confirmed.

Trump is planning on signing the order at a vaccine summit at the White House Tuesday. 

“The priorities of the administration and this President since day one have been to put America first. This executive order reemphasizes that saying that, saying that we are going to ensure access to free, safe, and effective Covid vaccines to the American people,” the official said. 

“Once we've ensured the ability to meet the needs of the American people, it would be been in the interest the United States to facilitate international access to Covid vaccines. That's what we're doing. The executive order also comes with accompanied framework, which provides the guidelines for the interagency to execute that that directive,” the official added.

It is hoped the executive order will allay fears that there will not be enough doses of the vaccine to go around after distribution begins. 

4:47 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Pennsylvania will run out of hospital beds and have to turn people away if infections continue to climb

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf spoke bluntly Monday, describing an increasingly "dire" scenario where sick Pennsylvanians could be turned away from hospitals due to lack of beds if Covid-19 hospitalizations continue to increase.

The Commonwealth reported that at least 5,421 people were hospitalized due to the virus as of noon Monday, according to the state's Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

The 14-day moving average of hospitalized patients per day had increased by 4,000 since the end of September, she added.

Wolf warned of hospitals that were already diverting patients to other facilities due to "full emergency rooms and overwhelming needs."

“If the worst happens, hospitals will not be able to treat all sick Pennsylvanians," Wolf said. "They’ll be forced to turn away people who need treatment, and that means more Pennsylvanians will die.” 

The latest numbers: There were at least 6,330 new cases of Covid-19 from Sunday, and approximately 8,630 from Saturday. There were a total of 111 new deaths over the weekend, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The statewide positivity rate for the week of Nov. 27 through Dec. 3 was 14.4%, according to the department. 

Note:These numbers were released by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project. 

4:21 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Here's why there probably won't be a more detailed stimulus proposal today

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Sen. Joe Manchin speaks alongside a bipartisan group of Democrat and Republican members of Congress as they announce a proposal for a Covid-19 relief bill on Capitol Hill on December 1, in Washington.
Sen. Joe Manchin speaks alongside a bipartisan group of Democrat and Republican members of Congress as they announce a proposal for a Covid-19 relief bill on Capitol Hill on December 1, in Washington. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The bipartisan group of senators working on a coronavirus relief package will have another call this evening in an attempt to iron out differences on liability insurance, a Democratic aide tells CNN. That remains the key sticking point in the negotiations.

As a result of the call, don’t expect to see a more detailed proposal, outline or summary of the other pieces of the bill they are working on today. 

The thinking is that there really is not a full agreement until everything is worked out. While aides feel good about the progress that has been made to settle state and local funding, the liability piece is still unresolved. And, without liability, there isn’t likely to be a deal. 

Remember, last week Sen. Joe Manchin said the goal was release legislative text today. But, now that there is going to be a one-week continuing resolution, that does give the bipartisan group more time to figure out a path forward on liability.

3:05 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

South Dakota resident says nearby facilities were so full, she was sent out-of-state for Covid-19 treatment

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury


South Dakota resident Rose Mary Kor was rushed to the ER when she was struggling to breathe.

At the ER, Kor was diagnosed with Covid-19-related pneumonia and was told she needed to be treated in a more sophisticated facility, but because the nearest facility was full, she would need to be sent for treatment in Wyoming, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin reported.

“They said, ‘we're going to try to send you to Wyoming and the two options are Gillette and Casper, we'll see who will take you.’ And as it turned out, Wyoming Medical Center in Casper was the one that could take me,” Kor explained.

"'What is happening?' Is what I was thinking. 'How could this be? Do you guys know how far away Casper is?'" Kor told Baldwin.

The facility is about a 3-hour drive from Kor's home and 200 miles away, she said.

Kor added that she doesn't know what would happen if she required additional treatment.

Kor said she would have to see her doctor at the nearby clinic, but doesn't know "what would happen, if they would have to ship me somewhere else. It just seems like our system is not prepared for the scope of what this virus is doing."

Kor's message to fellow residents in South Dakota is to take the pandemic seriously.

"If you're not thinking this is real, that you don't need a mask, that you don't need to be careful, you're living in some sort of alternate reality," she said.

3:01 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Former FDA commissioner says he "will not eat indoors in a restaurant" during the pandemic 

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC's Andrew Sorkin on Monday that he has avoided indoor dining and will continue to do so during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“On a personal level, I’ve gone to many big box stores properly masked, and I wear a high-quality mask when I go out. I will not eat indoors in a restaurant,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb said he has been eating outdoors since the summer. The risk is too high to be in a confined space without a mask on, he said.

"We need to understand what we’re looking at right now is going to get progressively worse over the next four to six weeks. Infections are going to continue to grow for at least four weeks, and the number of deaths and hospitalizations are going to continue to grow for probably the next six weeks,” Gottlieb said. 

2:44 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Fauci wants Biden administration to focus on "efficient and equitable" distribution of Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday that the first thing he would like the incoming Biden administration to do is "get the efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines" to as many people as possible.

"So if there's one thing we want to jump all over is – literally do a full-court press – to get out there, engage the community," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS' Norah O'Donnell during the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit.

"Because if we could get 75% to 85% of the people in the United States vaccinated, we could crush this outbreak," Fauci said. "We really have the capability of doing it."

Under the Biden administration, Fauci will be staying in his current role and will also become a chief medical adviser for Biden on the Covid-19 pandemic.

2:23 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Resources should be made available to keep children safely in school, Fauci says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Milken Institute
Milken Institute

If schools have the resources, children can be kept in school safely, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday.

"We should be making resources available so we can keep children, safely, in school," Fauci told CBS' Norah O'Donnell during the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit.

"It looks like now that the test positive of children in school compared to the comparable community is really relatively low," Fauci said. "The safer place to be for the children would be in school, because the test positivity is really relatively low."

Fauci added that one of his own daughters is a school teacher.