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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7:03 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Wyoming issues statewide mask requirement

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

Medical Assistant Savannah Dela Vega places a nasal swab in a container for coronavirus testing at the drive-thru clinic in Casper, Wyoming, on Friday, October 9, 2020.
Medical Assistant Savannah Dela Vega places a nasal swab in a container for coronavirus testing at the drive-thru clinic in Casper, Wyoming, on Friday, October 9, 2020. Cayla Nimmo/The Casper Star-Tribune via AP

Wyoming will now require people to wear masks in indoor public spaces across the state, Gov. Mark Gordon's office said in a statement on Monday.

Previously, the governor had left decisions on mask mandates to county governments and 16 of the state's 23 counties had local orders.

The decision to extend the face covering requirement statewide was endorsed by the Wyoming Medical Society, Wyoming Primary Care Association, and Wyoming Hospital Association, according to the statement.

The new health orders go into effect Wednesday through Jan. 8.  

Several other restrictions were also included in the new measures. They are...

  • Bars and restaurants must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for onsite consumption.
  • Only six people will be allowed to sit together at a time.
  • Workout classes at gyms will be capped at 10 people.
  • Gatherings where people cannot social distance will be limited to no more than 10 people.

“I want to thank the majority of Wyoming counties who have taken the lead, and the people who are working hard to protect their friends, neighbors, and colleagues by wearing face coverings. They will make a big difference, but it will take time," Gordon said.

“Rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to mitigate the economic damage and social costs to the state, but how we emerge on the other side is in large part up to us," he added.

The latest numbers: Wyoming reported at least 128 deaths in November – that's the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in a month since the pandemic began in March, the statement said.

Gordon tested positive for Covid-19 on Nov. 25 and his wife tested positive for the virus on Dec. 3. 

Note: These numbers were released by Gordon’s office, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

6:09 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

White House says vaccine drug companies won't attend summit because FDA regulators will be there

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Drug makers Pfizer and Moderna will not attend a White House summit on Covid-19 vaccines and their distribution Tuesday, despite being two of the companies behind developing those vaccines.

The White House said that’s because the administration felt it was more important for regulators to attend and explain the authorization process to the American people. 

During a background call with reporters Monday, a senior administration official said that while both companies were involved with “initial discussions” of the planning of the summit, “there was a change of direction in light of the fact we would have the regulator participating in the event.” 

“It was more appropriate not to add one or more vaccine companies with pending applications before the FDA,” the official said. 

Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA official in charge of which Covid vaccines get authorized, will attend to, “explain to the audience how the FDA goes about reviewing vaccines, and how thorough they are just why the FDA review process is the gold standard for the world.” 

“We thought it was quite important to come for his session he's going to leave shortly after that to get back to work,” another official said later. 

The White House claimed that “several vaccine manufacturers” had contacted organizers, some unsolicited, and had early discussions about participating. 

“We thought Peter Marks, if we're trying to instill greater confidence, would be an independent voice for quality and effectiveness. And that would be more effective than the companies who are producing the vaccines themselves,” an official said, adding that, “from a regulatory perspective we cannot have the person in the room who is going to adjudicate emergencies use authorization with those who have submitted it during that evaluation period.”  

Also absent from the list of participants is Dr. Anthony Fauci. A senior administration official said Fauci was invited and wanted to participate, but wasn’t able to because of an “important scheduling issue.” 

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

CNN
CNN

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.