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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11:01 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Inside the multi-state network that is getting vaccines to rural America

From CNN's Bill Kirkos and Omar Jimenez

As the world waits for pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna to deliver their Covid-19 vaccines to cities around the globe, the job of getting millions of doses to some of the most out of-the-way-places in the US presents its own set of unprecedented obstacles.

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, one health care system has spent months preparing for the challenge.

Sanford Health System -- which has over 400 clinics and senior care locations, many in small towns and farming communities in the upper Midwest -- has prioritized making sure the vaccines that are delivered are kept safe until they are administered.

Jesse Breidenbach, Sanford Health's senior executive director of pharmacy, said that entails keeping the vaccine cold. Very cold.

"When the vaccine comes it'll be on dry ice," Breidenbach told CNN. "We'll put it into the minus-80 degrees (Celsius) freezer and then when we get orders from our clinics to distribute that vaccine, we'll pack it in coolers on ice and then monitor that temperature...until it's given to the patient."

Minus-80 degrees Celsius is about 112 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

Read the full story:

9:43 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Cleveland Clinic built a "freezer farm" to store Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Cleveland Clinic in Ohio built a “freezer farm” of 16 ultra-cold freezers to store Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine.

The freezers are on Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, Andrea Pacetti, a Cleveland Clinic spokesperson, told CNN Wednesday.

Pacetti said the state of Ohio has told Cleveland Clinic its first shipment will contain a limited number of doses. 

“Total, we’ll have 16 freezers in place,” said Jeff Rosner, executive director of pharmacy at Cleveland Clinic. “We'll probably have somewhere between 94,000 and 200,000 dosage storage capability.”
“We will have scheduled appointments at various inoculation centers, and we will provide the product to them in a just-in-time environment,” Rosner added.

Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine can be stored in refrigerators for up to five days after being removed from ultra-cold freezers and up to six hours after being diluted with saline. 

“It's a dance as far as getting it out of the freezer all the way to getting it to somebody who will be getting it in their arm,” said Dr. Michelle Medina, associate chief of clinical operations at Cleveland Clinic. “It has to be a very well-timed dance.”

9:00 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Feds seize 100,000 fake N95 masks destined for health workers

From CNN's Dave Alsup

More than 100,000 counterfeit 3M N95 surgical masks destined for East Coast hospital workers were seized Monday by United States authorities, according to a release from Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 

On Dec. 3, CBP officers at the Ysleta Cargo Facility intercepted the shipment of 100,080 3M N95 surgical masks.

The masks were in transit at an El Paso bonded warehouse destined for a hospital elsewhere in the US. CBP estimates the shipment had a retail price of $600,480.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations special agents determined the masks were counterfeit after working with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and 3M Company, CBP said in a statement.  

8:35 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

US adds record number of daily Covid-19 deaths

From CNN’s Haley Brink

The United States reported a record-high number of new Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

So far on Wednesday, 2,939 new Covid-19 deaths were reported, according to the university. The US is currently averaging 2,230 new deaths per day, according to the data.

The US has reported 289,188 total coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The days with the highest number of new deaths in the US, according to university data, were:

  1. Dec. 9: 2,939
  2. Dec. 3: 2,879
  3. Dec. 2: 2,804
  4. Dec. 4: 2,607
  5. April 15: 2,603

10:00 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN's Haley Brink

The United States reported 106,688 Covid-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the eighth consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 hospitalizations.

According to CTP data, these are the highest hospitalization numbers:

  1. Dec. 9: 106,688 hospitalized
  2. Dec. 8: 104,590 hospitalized
  3. Dec. 7: 102,148 hospitalized
  4. Dec. 6: 101,501 hospitalized
  5. Dec. 4: 101,276 hospitalized

CNN's Sara Sidner went inside a field hospital President Donald Trump called "fake." Watch below:

7:40 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

FDA authorizes first over-the-counter, non-prescription Covid-19 test system for home use

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Source: LabCorp
Source: LabCorp

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted an emergency use authorization for the first non-prescription, over-the-counter Covid-19 test kit for at home use. 

The LabCorp Pixel COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit allows anyone age 18 and older to buy the kit and collect nasal swab samples at home, the FDA said in a news release Wednesday. The samples are then sent to a LabCorp facility for testing. 

Positive or invalid results are delivered back to the consumer by phone or through a health care provider. Users will be notified by email or through an online portal if results are negative.

“While many home collection kits can be prescribed with a simple online questionnaire, this newly authorized direct-to-consumer collection kit removes that step from the process, allowing anyone to collect their sample and send it to the lab for processing,” Dr. Jeff Shuren, the director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

The kit can help individuals understand their Covid-19 status and make decisions about when self-isolation or quarantine may be necessary, the FDA said. It can also help with health care decisions after discussions with providers.

“With this authorization, we can help more people get tested, reduce the spread of the virus and improve the health of our communities,” Dr. Brian Caveney, chief medical officer and president of LabCorp Diagnostics, said in a statement. 

The new kit is now available through the Pixel by LabCorp website and may soon be available in stores, the company said in a news release.  

After buying the test, users register the kit on the website and follow the included instructions.

“Test results are securely delivered to the consumer via the Pixel by LabCorp portal,” LabCorp said. “A healthcare provider will counsel consumers who test positive to assist with healthcare treatment and actions.”

The company emphasized in its news release that the new Covid-19 at-home testing kit is not a substitute for a doctor’s visit.

7:24 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

North Dakota extends orders requiring face coverings and limiting capacity at restaurants

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

A digital highway sign encourages drivers to wear a mask in Fargo, North Dakota, on Wednesday, October 14.
A digital highway sign encourages drivers to wear a mask in Fargo, North Dakota, on Wednesday, October 14. Dan Koeck/Bloomberg via Getty Images

North Dakota extended two orders today that require face coverings and limit capacity at bars, restaurants and events, Gov. Doug Burgum announced during a news conference today.

The order requiring face coverings to be worn in indoor businesses and public settings, and outdoor public settings where physically distancing isn’t possible has been extended until 12:01 a.m. local time on Jan. 18, Burgum said. Jan. 18 was chosen to allow a 14-day incubation period after Christmas and New Year's Day, he added. 

The amended order limiting capacity at bars and restaurants to 50% and closing in-person service between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. has been extended until 8 a.m. on Jan. 8, Burgum said. Event venues remain limited to 25% of their normal capacity, he added. 

Burgum will also allow the four-week pause on K-12 extracurricular activities and competitions expire on Dec. 13. 

North Dakota reported 4,286 new cases of Covid-19 in the past seven days and 102 deaths from Covid-19, the governor said.  

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

6:20 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Democratic senator: "We are not going home" until deal on Covid stimulus bill is reached

From CNN's Leinz Vales

In this February 5 file photo, Sen. Joe Manchin speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.
In this February 5 file photo, Sen. Joe Manchin speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Patrick Semansky/AP

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Wednesday that Congress is "not going to fail" in getting a Covid stimulus bill passed.

"We're not going home until we do get one," Manchin told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Remember, this is called a Covid emergency relief package. It's not called a do all, end all package. This is called what Joe Biden has said, this is a down payment on what is needed."

Manchin is a member of a bipartisan group of lawmakers that proposed a coronavirus emergency relief framework aimed at helping Americans affected by the pandemic. 

On CNN's "The Situation Room," the West Virginia senator went on to lay out some of the stumbling blocks to an agreement. 

Liability Protection:

"I don't think there's a Democrat or a Republican believes that anyone in a small business should be sued out of existence. But on the other hand, you have to have a safe workplace. You have to have worker conditions that are safe. You can't throw the baby out with the bath water and say you get total amnesty, anything you want to do. We think there's a way. We have all of our lawyers working. That should be done."

Funding state and local governments:

"A lot of my Republican friends don't think the state and locals need anything. The only thing I've said, this is based on need. We're not sending money for the sake of sending money. We're saying, show us your need. This is what you qualify for. But you're not going to be able to spend it or use it if you don't have a loss of revenue, excessive Covid expenses."

Watch the moment below:

6:09 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Kentucky reports sixth day of declining Covid-19 positivity rate

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced today, that while Covid-19 numbers in the state are still “alarmingly high,” Wednesday was the state’s sixth straight day with a declining positivity rate, a release from the governor’s office said.

The governor linked the declining positivity rate to Kentucky’s “ongoing sacrifices” and his recent executive orders to mitigate spread.

“We continue to see some promising trends in our Covid-19 numbers. They are still far too high, but given that we were experiencing exponential growth before we took those difficult steps, this is evidence that we may not just be slowing down that growth, we may even be plateauing our cases,” Beshear said.

Kentucky reported 3,481 new cases of Covid-19 Wednesday, for a total of 209,136 cases. At least 16 new Covid-19-related deaths were also reported, bringing the total to 2,118. 

Note: These numbers were released by the state’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.