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December 14 coronavirus news

Covid-19 vaccines roll out, frontline workers amid first vaccinated
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South Korea reports nearly 900 new Covid-19 cases as government considers tightening restrictions

A medical worker takes samples from a man during a Covid-19 test at a makeshift clinic in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, Dec. 14.

South Korea recorded 880 new coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Of the new cases, 32 were imported. The country also recorded 13 additional virus-related deaths.

The new figures raise the country’s total to 44,364 confirmed cases and 600 fatalities.

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the government was now weighing up whether to introduce the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

“The government is listening to different opinions and carefully considering whether to raise the social distancing measures to level 3. We shouldn’t miss the timing, but we also cannot make a hasty decision,” he said.

Alert levels in South Korea range from 1 – the least concerning situation – to 3, signifying the toughest measures necessary. Levels rise in increments of 0.5.

Currently, the country is at Level 2 national alert, but the greater Seoul area and the southeastern port city of Busan are at Level 2.5 – the second-highest level.

If the government raises the alert to the highest level, that means a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, work from home for all non-essential employees, and a shift to online for all schools and church services. 

“Considering the gravity and impact of Level 3 measures, there is a need to calmly check on ourselves first – if we’re abiding by the current measures properly,” Chung said, adding that raising the alert to Level 3 would “come with irreversible pain.”

Nevada halts evictions for residents who can't pay rent because of the virus

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak reinstated an order Monday to prevent people who can’t afford their rent from being evicted from their homes.

The eviction moratorium only applies when a resident cannot afford to pay due to financial hardship caused by Covid-19. It does not apply to tenants who are being evicted for non-financial reasons.

“When people are evicted, it is impossible to stay home,” Gov. Sisolak said in a written statement. “They are out looking for jobs and housing to desperately save their families. They will spread Covid-19 unintentionally because they have no options.”

The order does not forgive past-due rent nor prevent landlords from adding late fees when the moratorium ends on March 31.

Additionally, property owners can get an exception to the moratorium if they can prove that failure to get rental payments would result in the property going into foreclosure.

One of first Americans to get vaccine says she wanted to "lead by example"

Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester on Monday, Dec. 14, in New York.

Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was one of the first Americans to receive the new Covid-19 vaccine on Monday.

She wanted to “lead by example,” she told CNN.  

“I understand the mistrust among the minority community, so, yes it was on my mind, but mostly I want to be a part of the solution, to put an end to this pandemic once and for all,” she said. 

“I have seen tremendous pain, suffering, fear in the eyes of my colleagues every day that we come to work courageously to save lives,” Lindsay said. “I don’t ask people to do anything that I would not do myself and so I was happy to, to volunteer to be among the first,” she added.

She said she felt “great,” and that it didn’t feel any different from the annual flu shot.

“I have no fear. I trust my profession is deeply rooted in science … What I don’t trust is getting Covid-19 because I don’t know how it will affect me and the people around me that I could potentially transfer the virus to,” she said.

Vaccine distribution: The first coronavirus vaccine was shipped to all 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico Monday after a weeks-long authorization process and a massive distribution plan.

Got questions and concerns about the Covid vaccine? Ask them at CNN's town hall

The Covid-19 vaccine has arrived in the United States, but it has been greeted with unusually high public skepticism. Although the percentage of Americans willing to take the vaccine is rising, health officials are still struggling to combat distrust – especially among the Black community.

Do you have questions about the vaccine? International correspondents and experts will join CNN’s town hall on Friday to discuss the vaccine and why some in the Black community are reluctant to receive it. Submit your questions and concerns below:

US Surgeon General says he is worried about vaccine skepticism among minority groups

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Monday he is worried about vaccine skepticism among minority communities, but is working to help overcome it.

“Nothing has been in my heart more than this issue over the past several weeks to months,” Adams told CNN. “I’ve been working with Pfizer, with Moderna, with AstraZeneca, with Johnson & Johnson to make sure we have appropriate numbers of minorities enrolled in these vaccine trials so that people can understand that they are safe.”

Adams said he’s working with leaders in the minority community, including faith leaders and fraternities and sororities.

“There are tens of thousands of Black and brown people dying every year because they are distrustful of the system, in many cases rightly so, but also because they’re not getting the facts to help restore their trust in the system,” he said.

Adams said he’s heartened to see the numbers increasing among Americans who say they’ll get the vaccine when it becomes available. That figure is close to 80% today, a sharp rise from just 30% four weeks ago.

History behind mistrust: Adams emphasized that there are now independent review boards and regulations to protect against incidents like the Tuskegee experiment.

Between 1932 and 1972, Black men in the Tuskegee syphilis study were deliberately left untreated so doctors could study the “natural course” of the disease, which can damage the organs as it progresses, including the brain, other nerves, eyes and heart.

More than 193,000 new Covid-19 cases reported in the US on Monday

On Monday, Johns Hopkins University reported 193,454 new cases of coronavirus in the US.

Monday also marked the day that the US gave out the the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Health experts are warning it’s likely the US won’t see any meaningful, widespread impacts from vaccinations until well into 2021.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misreported the number of new Covid-19 cases in the US on Monday. There were 193,454 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

California will receive nearly 400,000 more doses of Pfizer vaccine next week, governor says

California is expected to receive an additional 393,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine early next week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a short video posted on his Twitter account Monday.

California received its first vaccine shipment of 33,150 doses on Monday, and expects a total of 327,000 doses this week.

The first vaccines were distributed to four locations in the state, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Eureka, and San Francisco, Newsom said.

He added that 24 additional locations will have received vaccines by Tuesday, and five more locations on Wednesday. 

Surging infections: This comes as California recorded more than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases for the fourth straight day on Monday, continuing an unprecedented surge of infections and hospitalizations that is stretching health care facilities to the brink.

Biden addresses Covid-19 deaths: "My heart goes out to each of you in this dark winter of the pandemic"

In remarks following today’s Electoral College vote that affirmed his election victory, President-elect Joe Biden took a moment to acknowledge the US’ latest solemn coronavirus milestone.

Earlier today, the US surpassed 300,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

“Today our nation passed a grim milestone: 300,000 deaths due to this Covid virus. My heart goes out to each of you in this dark winter of the pandemic, about to spend the holidays and the new year with a black hole in your hearts, without the ones you love at your side,” Biden said.

He continued: “My heart goes out to all of you who have fallen on hard times through no fault of your own. Unable to sleep at night, staring at the ceiling, weighed down by the worry of what tomorrow will bring for you and equally important for your family.”

Biden, who will take office on Jan. 20, said the US will get through the pandemic together.

“We’ve faced difficult times before in our history. I know we’ll get through this one — but together. That’s how we get through it: together,” he said.

Watch Biden speak here:


US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

The United States reported 110,549 Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

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

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

  • Dec 14: 110,549 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 13: 109,298 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 12: 108,461 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 11: 108,108 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 10: 107,276 people hospitalized

Perna tells governors another 4.3 million Pfizer doses authorized for release this Friday

Operation Warp Speed’s Gen. Gustave Perna told governors today that another 4.3 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine would be authorized for release this Friday, according to a source familiar with the call.  

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also suggested that there would be additional recommendations coming no later than Saturday on how to determine who should be in group 1b for vaccinations.

As far as the spread in the US, Dr. Deborah Birx said there was “evidence of improvement” in the middle of the country, but warned that caseloads are rising on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts.

Administration officials also appear to be grappling with how best to capitalize on monoclonal antibody treatments.

Birx, Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar all encouraged governors to push the use of monoclonal antibodies early in treatment for coronavirus.

Azar said it’s “almost too late” to use monoclonal antibodies once a patient is already admitted to the hospital.

The finish line is in sight, but US is not there yet, US surgeon general says

As the first Covid-19 vaccines were administered in the United States Monday, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned there’s a still a long way to go.

The US death toll from the coronavirus just surpassed 300,000 and hospitals are nearing capacity in cities across the country.

“Because even if you weren’t worried about Covid, your loved one who’s in labor may not have a hospital bed, your loved one who’s having a heart attack or who gets in a car accident may not have a bed,” Adams said.

“I was in Montana over the last several days and I talked to hospitals around the state. They’re over capacity in those hospitals. You’ve got hundreds of health care workers who are either in isolation or quarantine.”

Adams said Americans need to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands frequently.

He also urged people who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate plasma.

Adams encouraged anyone with questions about the new vaccine to talk to their health care provider. 

“It’s okay to have those questions. It’s not okay to let misinformation cause you to make decisions that are going to hurt you or hurt your community,” he said.

Watch the moment:


US surgeon general calls first Covid-19 vaccinations "a shot of hope"

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams speaks at George Washington University Hospital on Monday, December 14, in Washington.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams called the rollout Monday of the nation’s first Covid-19 vaccine “tremendous.”

“This is just tremendous and I’m smiling bigger than I’ve smiled in a long time because it has been a hard year for so many people out there, including me personally,” Adams told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“Today we really did get a shot of hope,” he added.

Adams was at George Washington University Medical Center Monday as frontline health care workers got the vaccination.

“We’re not talking about development. We’re not talking about the approval process – actual vaccines going into arms,” Adams said.

But he cautioned that there’s still a long road ahead: “We’ve got a long way to go, make no mistake about it, and we still need to be appropriately cautious,” Adams said.

“We still need to understand how severe this virus is and the surge that is going in the wrong direction, but we’ve got some hope finally,” he added.

All 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico have now received their first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine, according to statements from the state departments of health, governor’s offices and local hospitals.   

Watch the moment:


FedEx and UPS say they've completed first-day Covid-19 vaccine shipments

Shipping companies FedEx and UPS tell CNN they completed all first-day coronavirus vaccine deliveries as scheduled Monday.

FedEx said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was delivered to 70 to 80 sites on Monday.

UPS spokesperson Matt O’Connor told CNN that it “delivered 100% of its Covid vaccines on-time today.”

Operation Warp Speed, the federal government operation overseeing the vaccine program, said roughly 145 sites would receive the vaccine on Monday with another 425 on Tuesday and the remaining 66 deliveries on Wednesday.

Vaccine shipments began on Sunday morning when trucks departed Pfizer’s massive manufacturing facility near Kalamazoo, Michigan.

All 50 US states have gotten their first Pfizer vaccine shipments

HN Milan Torres prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on December 14, in Bethesda, Maryland.

All 50 states — as well as Washington, DC and Puerto Rico — have received their first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, according to statements from the state departments of health, governor’s offices, and local hospitals.   

Remember: Not all of these states have begun administering the vaccine, but they have received it.  

Hawaii receives initial shipment of the Covid-19 Vaccine

Hawaii’s largest private hospital confirmed it received the state’s first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine Monday, meaning that all 50 states had doses available only one day after shipping began.

The Queen’s Medical Center took delivery just before 8 a.m. local time.

“This is indeed a momentous day,” The Queen’s Health System’s CEO Dr. Jill Hoggard Green said in a written statement. “We have been looking forward to this day for a long time.”

The hospital said vaccinations will begin Tuesday, with priority given to health care workers who are caring directly for Covid-19 patients and other at-risk populations.

The Hawaii Department of Health has not confirmed how many total doses the state received Monday, but The Queen’s Medical Center said they will work to acquire more shipments.

Biden will talk about the vaccine tonight, but he's not expected to detail his own vaccination plans

President-elect Joe Biden will herald the scientific success of the Covid-19 vaccine tonight in a speech to the nation following the Electoral College vote that affirmed his election win — but he is not expected to shed any more light on when he will be vaccinated. 

Biden, 78, has repeatedly said he will get the vaccination whenever Dr. Anthony Fauci declares it safe to do so. Of course, that has happened, along with the Food and Drug Administration and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But advisers to Biden say the timing of the vaccination is still being worked out. He is expected to receive the vaccine in a public way, as part of his effort to persuade Americans of its safety, but the details are still being discussed in conversations with Fauci, his doctor and other officials.

He also intends to focus his message tonight on the grim American death toll, rather than his own vaccination plans. While no one suggests Biden shouldn’t receive it, one aide said optics were at play, and they wanted frontline workers to get it in the first few days. 

He is not expected to mention his own plans for a vaccination tonight, but look for that to come into sharper focus in the coming days. It is the expectation that he will get it soon, an adviser says, but likely not imminently.

With the two-shot requirement, aides say, time is an issue here if Biden wants to be fully vaccinated before taking office in five weeks.

Delaware receives doses of Pfizer vaccine

Delaware received doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, Gov. John Carney announced on Facebook.

“The Pfizer vaccine’s arrival is the first step in a process of getting back to our pre-pandemic normal,” Carney said. “We are all looking forward to that. The vaccine will provide our front-line health care workers with the protection they need while caring for Delawareans who have contracted the virus.”

The governor went to say that the “the vaccine’s arrival does not mean we are in the clear.”

“In fact, now more than ever, we need to step up our efforts to keep each other safe. That means wear a mask, wash your hands, and do not gather with your friends and family outside of your household. We know that’s hard, particularly at this time of year, but we are almost through this. We just need to stand firm in our resolve to beat the virus,” Carney said.