December 9 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Eoin McSweeney, Nada Bashir, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 10, 2020
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2:59 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Over half of Americans say they would get a first-generation Covid-19 vaccine, new poll finds 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Vail Health Hospital pharmacy technician Rob Brown takes mock Covid-19 vaccines out of a thermal shipping container in the pharmacy at the hospital on December 8, in Vail, Colorado.
Vail Health Hospital pharmacy technician Rob Brown takes mock Covid-19 vaccines out of a thermal shipping container in the pharmacy at the hospital on December 8, in Vail, Colorado. Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Over half – 53% – of Americans have said that they would likely get a first-generation Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos, released Wednesday. 

This number has increased from 51% before Thanksgiving and 38% in early October, Ipsos said.

Most people – 69% – said they were more likely to take the vaccine if it had been proven safe and effective by public health officials. And 67% and 65%, respectively, said they would likely take one if it had a 90% or more effectiveness rate, or it had been on the market for a few months.  

Sixty percent said that they would be likely to take it after being presented with a situation where Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton took the vaccine publicly. This was “an improvement over baseline but not as convincing as the safety arguments,” Ipsos said. 

The Axios-Ipsos poll is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,101 American adults and was conducted between December 4 and 7.

2:35 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Pennsylvania governor tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference in Malvern, Pennsylvania, on October 1, 2020.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference in Malvern, Pennsylvania, on October 1, 2020. Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Local News via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that he has tested positive for coronavirus and has no symptoms.

Wolf’s wife Frances has been tested and the couple is awaiting her results, according to a statement. Wolf is currently isolating at home and received his results after a routine test.

Wolf will continue to govern remotely, the statement said.

“As this virus rages, my positive test is a reminder that no one is immune from Covid, that following all precautions as I have done is not a guarantee, but it is what we know to be vital to stopping the spread of the disease and so I ask all Pennsylvanians to wear a mask, stay home as much as possible, socially distance yourself from those not in your household, and, most of all, take care of each other and stay safe," the statement said.

2:31 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

More than 278,000 courses of Covid-19 antibody treatments have been sent to medical facilities, HHS head says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington DC, on November 19.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington DC, on November 19. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

More than 278,000 courses of the two antibody treatments that have received emergency use authorization to treat Covid-19 have gone out to medial facilities, according to US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. The treatments, made by Eli Lilly & Co. and Regeneron, are for non-hospitalized patients.

Azar, who spoke at an Operation Warp Speed briefing Wednesday, said that the administration is working to send out more. 

Azar also encouraged people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months to donate their plasma. As of the end of November, nearly 106,000 people with Covid-19 have been treated with plasma from recovered patients, according to UScovidplasma.org. 

“Please contact your local American Red Cross or local American blood bank or go to coronavirus.gov for more information about how you can volunteer to be a donor and give the gift of life,” Azar said.
2:09 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

HHS secretary says he would be willing to get first Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Jen Christensen, Ellie Kaufman and Sara Murray

United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, in Washington, DC.
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he’d gladly get the first Covid-19 vaccine after authorization, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to Americans that he has “supreme confidence” in the integrity of the vaccine approval process and the quality of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“I wouldn’t ask the American people to do something that I wouldn’t be able to do myself,” Azar said at an Operation Warp Speed briefing on Wednesday. 

The Operation Warp Speed team said they were so focused on getting the vaccine out to Americans that they hadn’t thought about who would get the actual first shot.

“We’ve been so focused on speed, getting it out, and deferring to the governors,” Azar said.

“We probably do need to ah, make a plan for, who’s going to get it first visibly,” said Gen. Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed.

“We’re all going to be available, if it’s appropriate at the time to receive the shot,” Perna said. 

More on the vaccine: Perna said that 2.9 million doses of vaccine will be distributed in the first shipment from Pfizer if the emergency use authorization is granted by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Perna said that there were initially 6.4 million doses the federal government expected to receive from Pfizer in the first shipment. He separated 500,000 doses for reserve supply, then separated that number in half because the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses to be effective, bringing the total in the first shipment to 2.9 million doses.

2:02 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

No vaccine has been approved in the Americas as region sees highest number of new Covid-19 cases, PAHO says

From CNN's Jaide Garcia 

Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Americas, speaks about the coronavirus pandemic during a press briefing at PAHO Headquarters in Washington DC, on March 6.
Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Americas, speaks about the coronavirus pandemic during a press briefing at PAHO Headquarters in Washington DC, on March 6. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will meet with member states this week to to discuss preparations for a vaccine as the Americas region experiences its highest levels of new Covid-19 cases, the group's director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, said Wednesday.

Etienne said "no vaccine has been approved across our region yet," but added that a "number of vaccine candidates are under consideration." 

Speaking during an information session, she warned that when the vaccine is first available to be distributed, there will not be enough for everyone immediately.

"The objective is to save lives, using the first deployment to reach those most vulnerable to develop severe forms of Covid-19," Etienne said. "Health care workers will likely be among the first to benefit from a vaccine and will also play a key role in raising awareness about the importance of immunizations."

She urged "now is not the time to relax," as the region faces more than 28.5 million cases and at least 753,000 deaths due to Covid-19.

Among the South American countries, Etienne said Brazil is reporting the highest number of new Covid-19 cases with hospitals at capacity in some areas —putting the entire health system under strain. 

"These figures and trends make it clear that our region must re-double preventive measures, especially in preparation for the year-end holidays," Etienne said. 

1:56 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Senate Democratic leader calls on GOP leader to "join the rest of the Senate" in stimulus negotiations

From CNN's Sarah Fortinsky

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, on Tuesday, December 8.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, on Tuesday, December 8. Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to "join the rest of the Senate" in bipartisan stimulus negotiations, while describing last night's proposal from the White House as "an encouraging sign that the Republican leadership is moving in the right direction by endorsing the size of the gang of eight’s bill."

"It would do a whole lot of good if the Republican leader would drop the daily tirades and diatribes which seem to be based on some alternative reality and join the rest of the Senate in urging the bipartisan negotiations now underway to continue," Schumer said.

Schumer praised the price tag proposed by the White House but criticized certain aspects of the proposal, including "an unacceptably low amount" of unemployment benefits in exchange for the $600 direct payments included.

In encouraging McConnell to sit down and negotiate, Schumer said, "That’s where the real action is and where bipartisan agreement on the basic concepts will ultimately be forged."

Schumer further praised Biden's picks, including Gen. Lloyd Austin for secretary of Defense and Xavier Becerra for Health and Human Services secretary, and chastised his Republican colleagues for holding Biden's nominees to different standards than Trump's.

1:40 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Azar says there will be enough vaccine for any American who wants one next year

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), signs a Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. -80C Benchtop Freezer during an Operation Warp Speed vaccine summit at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, December 8.
Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), signs a Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. -80C Benchtop Freezer during an Operation Warp Speed vaccine summit at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, December 8. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there will be enough vaccine for any American who wants one by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

Twenty million Americans should be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of 2020, 50 million by the end of January and at least 100 million should be vaccinated by the end of the first quarter, Azar said at an Operation Warp Speed briefing Wednesday.

“We remain confident that across our portfolio of multiple vaccines, we will have enough doses for any American who wants a vaccine by the end of the second quarter of 2021,” Azar said.

Characterizing the results from the US Food and Drug Administration’s assessment of the Pfizer vaccine trial as “more good news,” Azar said people still do need to wear a mask, wash hands, avoid crowds and keep physical distance to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“Even as we have such a bright future ahead, we face extremely concerning trends in the spread of the virus,” Azar said. “Hospitalization rates are now at the highest they have been during the pandemic. We are so close to being able to protect millions of Americans from this virus with the vaccine. For now, we need to double down on the steps that can keep us all safe.”

1:36 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Coronavirus vaccine supplies to begin shipping out today in the US

From CNN's Sara Murray

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence departs from an Operation Warp Speed vaccine summit at the White House in Washington DC, on Tuesday, December 8.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence departs from an Operation Warp Speed vaccine summit at the White House in Washington DC, on Tuesday, December 8. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Operation Warp Speed, which is overseeing the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in the US, announced Wednesday that it has approved supply shipments in advance of the anticipated Pfizer vaccine. 

Items like syringes, needles, and alcohol wipes should begin going out today and through the end of the week, officials told reporters on a press call.

The news comes ahead of tomorrow's crucial meeting of the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee that will consider authorizing emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine.

1:20 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Mississippi governor plans to host holiday parties despite surge in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Tina Burnside

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves speaks on Covid-19 testing at the White House in Washington DC, on September 28.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves speaks on Covid-19 testing at the White House in Washington DC, on September 28. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is planning to host holiday parties in the near future despite his current executive order limiting gatherings due to a surge in coronavirus cases across the state, Mississippi Today first reported. 

State Rep. Chris Bell told CNN affiliate WAPT that he received an invitation to one of the governor's parties, but he is respectfully declining to attend because the virus is still out of control. 

CNN reached out to the governor's office on Wednesday. While the governor's spokesperson Bailey Martin didn't specifically address the holiday invitations, Martin said in a statement that any event held by the governor and the first lady are conducted safely in accordance with the governor's executive order. 

"The Governor and First Lady have cancelled or delayed many mansion events this year including the 1st Friday Christmas Candlelighters event and their daughter’s 16th birthday party, and have only continued with those events that can be conducted safely – following the governor’s executive orders. These events – that tend to be smaller and never allow more than ten participants indoors at a time to see the museum/decorations – are conducted similar to the limited public tours that are offered to the general public," the statement read. 

It's not clear how many people are invited to each event.

Currently, state orders limit indoor gatherings to fewer than 20 people, but the governor has said he will be announcing more restrictive measures this week.

The latest numbers: The Mississippi Department of Health reported at least 1,732 new single day cases of coronavirus and 56 additional deaths for Monday, December 7, bringing the state to a total of at least 167,926 Covid-19 cases and 4,017 reported deaths. 

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