December 8 coronavirus news

Nurses care for a COVID-19 positive patient at UMass Memorial Hospital on December 4, 2020 in Worcester, Massachusetts. - UMass Memorial Hospital had to convert one of their cardiac step down units into a COVID-19 ICU due to the surge in patients. The United States recorded more than 210,000 Covid-19 cases in 24 hours on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University, in an all-time high for the country since the start of the pandemic. (Photo by allison dinner and Allison Dinner / AFP) (Photo by ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images)
US tops more than 15 million coronavirus cases
02:15 - Source: CNN

What you need to know

  • The UK has started vaccinating citizens with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, becoming the first Western nation to administer Covid-19 shots outside of clinical trials.
  • The US, which surpassed 15 million cases Tuesday, is adding cases at the fastest rate during the pandemic.
  • President Trump signed a largely symbolic executive order aimed at prioritizing the shipment of Covid-19 vaccines to Americans before other nations.

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Fauci expects another Covid-19 surge after the holidays

Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging Americans to stay home for the holidays.

“We’re in a tough situation because of our baseline level of infections,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Tuesday in a discussion with the National Urban League. 

Before the fall surge, the Unites States was already recording anywhere between 40,000 to 70,000 new coronavirus cases a day as the fall weather forced more people indoors, Fauci said.

The country is now seeing hundreds of thousands of new cases every day and Fauci said the US hasn’t even seen the spike that’s expected from travel and gatherings from the Thanksgiving holiday yet.

“When you superimpose the Thanksgiving spike you have what I call a surge upon a surge. That is going to land about a week before we start to travel for the Christmas holidays and Hanukkah,” Fauci predicted. 
“People travel for Christmas, they congregate at parties, at social gatherings and dinners,” he said. “Then the Christmas spike is going to be another one, so the months of December and January are going to be very problematic.”

But Fauci said it doesn’t have to be that way. He urged continued mitigation efforts such as mask usage, social distancing and avoiding crowds.

“We’re going to be asking people to do something that is difficult and maybe even painful, particularly at the family level, is to tell people, unless it’s absolutely necessary, not to travel,” he said. “We said that over Thanksgiving and we’re saying the same thing over Christmas.”

Fauci said that it would be best for Americans to stay away from travel – especially trains and airports – and remain home with their families “as difficult as it may be.”

“It’s better to say this is an unusual year, hopefully we’re going to have a lot more Christmases, a lot more New Years,” Fauci said.

Iran plans to import 42 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines

Pedestrians walk past closed shops along a street in Iran's capital Tehran on Nov. 21.

Iran plans to import 42 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from abroad, Iranian Food and Drug Administration (IFDA) spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said Tuesday, according to state TV.

The imported vaccines are meant for high-risk groups, while the public will receive a locally produced vaccine, PressTV reported. Jahanpour said that Iran had pre-ordered about 16.8 million shots through COVAX, an initiative led by the World Health Organization, which aims to provide worldwide access to effective Covid-19 vaccines. 

“In addition to that, negotiations are underway with four countries to pre-order 20 to 21 million doses of corona (virus) vaccines which if approved by the IFDA, would be used in the country,” Jahanpour said. 

He also said another 4 million doses of vaccine would be supplied through joint manufacturing ventures between Iranian and foreign companies and that the foreign supply of vaccines would be exclusively dedicated to high-risk groups, including the elderly, those with debilitating diseases and health workers.

“The rest of the country’s need would be met through domestic manufacturing,” Jahanpour said.

Accusations against US: Last Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the United States of waging an economic war and preventing Iran from making a payment to COVAX. 

“The United States even prevents us from using our own money in different countries to pay COVAX for the vaccine,” Zarif said, adding, “We’ve been trying, our Ministry of Health has been trying, our Central Bank has been trying to transfer money we have in billions in other countries to WHO for COVAX and we haven’t had much success.” 

People who recovered from Covid-19 should still get a coronavirus vaccine, Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recommends people who have recovered from Covid-19 should still plan to get vaccinated when a coronavirus shot becomes available.

“It is not clear how long immunity to getting infected lasts,” Fauci told a gathering of the National Urban League Tuesday night.
“Typically, when you get infected, you’re immune from reinfection for a period of time. It could be lifelong, like with measles. It could be 10 years or so as with other diseases or it could be relatively short … The history of coronaviruses indicate that the durability of immunity is a bit on the short side.”

Immunity may only last a year or two and not decades, Fauci said.

“So that’s the reason why we make no distinction,” he said. “If a person gets infected and then wants to get the vaccine, it’s perfectly fine. It doesn’t have any impact on other underlying conditions.”

Rhode Island leads the US for highest average of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people 

A stretcher is loaded back into an ambulance after EMTs dropped off a patient at a newly opened field hospital operated by Care New England to handle a surge of Covid-19 patients in Cranston, Rhode Island, on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Rhode Island is currently reporting an average of 123 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, according to JHU data – the highest number by this metric in the United States.

The states with the top five averages in the US currently are:

Rhode Island: 123 new cases per 100,000 people Indiana: 102 new cases per 100,000 people Utah: 98 new cases per 100,000 people South Dakota: 97 new cases per 100,000 people Alaska: 97 new cases per 100,000 people. 

According to JHU data, the average number of cases per 100,000 people is rising in more than half the country. Rhode Island, Connecticut, California, and Tennessee are some states seeing this metric rise the quickest.

North Korean leader's sister warns South Korea's foreign minister could "pay dearly" for Covid-19 remarks

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Saturday, March 2, 2019.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong has accused South Korea’s foreign minister of making “reckless remarks” on the emergency anti-epidemic measures in North Korea, adding that she “might have to pay dearly for it.”

Kim also accused South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha of speaking “without any consideration of the consequences.”

Kim’s statement, her first in public for several months, was made on the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Wednesday.

What did Kang say? The South Korean foreign minister’s comments about the coronavirus situation in North Korea were made on Dec. 5 at a conference in Bahrain hosted by the International Institute For Strategic Studies.

“They still say they don’t have any cases (of COVID-19), which is hard to believe,” Kang said. “The regime is very intensely focused on controlling the disease that they say they don’t have, so it’s a bit of an odd situation.”

North Korea has said it doesn’t have any confirmed Covid-19 cases but many experts are doubtful. The country closed its borders in January and raised its anti-epidemic measures to the highest level again on Dec. 2, according to the KCNA.

In late November, South Korea’s spy agency reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered executions of at least two people due to Covid-19 and economic pressure, according to a South Korean lawmaker briefed by the country’s spy agency.

Biden details plan to combat coronavirus pandemic in first 100 days

US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday laid out his three-point plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic, an approach in dealing with the virus that continues to contrast with President Donald Trump.

The plan, announced as he introduced the team he has designed to get the pandemic under control, would aim to get at least 100 million Americans vaccinated in his initial 100 days in office, his pledge to sign a face mask mandate on his first day in office and efforts to get kids back to school safely.

Biden’s plan came the same day that Trump signed a largely symbolic executive order aimed at prioritizing the shipment of the coronavirus vaccine to Americans before other nations.

“My first 100 days won’t end the Covid-19 virus. I can’t promise that,” Biden said at an event in Wilmington, Delaware. “But we did not get in this mess quickly, we’re not going to get out of it quickly, it’s going to take some time. But I’m absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better.”

Last week, in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the President-elect said he will ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days after he takes office.

Read the full story:

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - DECEMBER 08: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announces the members of his health team, including his pick for secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. With the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to ravage the country with daily records for infections and deaths, members of Biden's health team said they will make fighting COVID-19 the priority. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Biden details plan to combat coronavirus pandemic in first 100 days

Raid of former Florida Covid data scientist's home could affect other state employees, legal experts warn

The former Florida state data scientist whose house was raided by police on Monday says she isn’t just worried about the legal ramifications she’s facing, but also for other state employees who leaked her damaging information on Florida’s coronavirus response.