December 19 coronavirus news

By Emiko Jozuka, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt and Sarah Diab, CNN

Updated 0420 GMT (1220 HKT) December 22, 2020
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1:20 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

US adds nearly 250,000 new Covid-19 cases in single-day record

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

The United States reported 249,709 new coronavirus cases and 2,814 virus-related deaths on Friday, the most recorded in a single day since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The nationwide totals now stand at 17,459,296 cases and 313,588 fatalities, according to JHU.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, and repatriated cases. 

These are the days with the highest number of cases reported:

  1. Dec. 18: 249,709
  2. Dec. 16: 247,403
  3. Dec. 17: 236,211
  4. Dec. 11: 234,103
  5. Dec. 4: 229,606

CNN is tracking US cases:

12:57 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Fauci says it's essential that minority communities get a Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. CNN

It’s “essential” that minority communities get vaccinated against Covid-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday on CNN's town hall.

“The burden of disease, not only of the likelihood of getting infected because of the nature of the jobs that minorities have, they're out there, they're in the community, they're doing the essential jobs,” Fauci said.

Fauci added that minorities are also at greater risk of severe infection and death than their White counterparts.

“They have a double whammy because once they do get infected they have a degree and a relative incidence and prevalence of the underlying comorbidities which make it much more likely for them to have a serious outcome once they are infected,” he said.
“[It’s] an extra special reason of why we have to get the minority community vaccinated, not only for their own health, the health of their families, but the health of their community,” Fauci added.
1:03 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Watch the entire CNN coronavirus town hall

From CNN's John Branch

Left to right: Don Lemon, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Jerome Adams and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN's town hall.
Left to right: Don Lemon, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Jerome Adams and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN's town hall. CNN

CNN anchor Don Lemon and chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosted "The Color of Covid – The Vaccines," on Friday night -- an hour-long special that covered the skepticism of the coronavirus vaccines in communities of color.

The special featured interviews with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, both of whom answered a broad range of audience questions.

See the town hall in full here:

12:02 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

India plans to vaccinate 300 million people against Covid-19. That's almost the size of the US population

From CNN's Vedika Sud and Nectar Gan

With a Covid-19 caseload that's surpassed 10 million people, India is the world's second worst-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic, trailing only the United States.

But it is aiming to lift itself out of the crisis in the coming months with a massive vaccination drive -- covering in its first phase almost as many people as the entire US population.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has identified 300 million people to receive the first doses of the vaccines. The priority group is made up of 30 million health care workers, policemen, soldiers and volunteers, and 270 million vulnerable people -- mostly citizens above the age of 50 and 10 million others with serious comorbidities.

The producers of three leading coronavirus vaccine candidates have applied for emergency use authorization, and all of them require two doses to provide sufficient immunity. That adds up to a total of 600 million shots, and Modi's government wants to complete the whole process by August.

That's an incredibly ambitious undertaking, especially for a developing country with poor rural infrastructure and an inadequate public health system that is already buckling under tremendous pressure from the coronavirus.

Read the full story:

11:42 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

India surpasses 10 million coronavirus cases

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A health worker collects a swab sample from a man for Covid-19 test, at a dispensary in New Delhi, India, on December 5.
A health worker collects a swab sample from a man for Covid-19 test, at a dispensary in New Delhi, India, on December 5. Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

India surpassed 10 million confirmed coronavirus cases Saturday after adding 25,152 new infections from the past 24 hours, according to the country's Health Ministry.

India is the second country to hit 10 million cases, after the United States, which has reported more than 17.4 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

India's total number of cases stands at 10,004,599 and the death toll at 145,136 after adding 347 new virus-related fatalities from Friday, the Health Ministry said.

CNN is tracking worldwide cases:

11:42 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

New South Wales' Northern Beaches enter lockdown as mystery Covid-19 cluster grows

From CNN's Paul Devitt and Angus Watson

A Covid-19 digital sign is seen on Dee Why beachfront on December 19, in Sydney, Australia.
A Covid-19 digital sign is seen on Dee Why beachfront on December 19, in Sydney, Australia. Lee Hulsman/Getty Images

New South Wales announced a lockdown for the Northern Beaches region beginning at 5 p.m. (1 a.m. ET) Saturday until next Thursday, according to a news release from NSW Health.

"This will require the closing of hospitality venues and function centers in the Northern Beaches LGA, until 11.59 p.m. on Wednesday (subject to health advice), with the exception of takeaways. Gyms and places of worship will also close," NSW Health said. "All residents of the Northern Beaches LGA will be required to stay at home, unless permitted to leave for certain reasons, such as essential shopping, exercise and medical care."

This comes as the number of coronavirus cases related to a mystery cluster in the area rose to 38 on Saturday. Of the cluster, 15 cases are linked to the Avalon RSL Beach Club, 23 cases are linked to the Avalon Bowling Club, and several patients attended both venues, NSW added.

The first cases of the cluster were reported Wednesday, the first locally-transmitted cases in NSW since December 3. Officials are still investigating the source of the cluster.

NSW Health also issued an urgent call for people who attended Anytime Fitness over December 6, 7, 8, 11, and 12 to get tested immediately after officials found a Covid-19-positive person visited the gym during those days.

The state reported 30 new Covid-19 cases from Friday, 23 of which were locally-transmitted and the other seven imported. NSW has reported 4,523 total coronavirus cases since start of the pandemic.

8:16 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Haley Brink

The United States reported 114,751 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Friday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 17th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations.

The highest hospitalization numbers, according to CTP data, are:

  1. Dec. 18: 114,751
  2. Dec. 17: 114,195
  3. Dec. 16: 113,066
  4. Dec. 15: 112,814
  5. Dec. 14: 110,549
11:42 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

FDA authorizes a second vaccine as average daily cases and deaths hit records

From CNN's Jason Hanna, Theresa Waldrop and Christina Maxouris

A healthcare professional gets vital information from a Covid-19 patient at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on December 17.
A healthcare professional gets vital information from a Covid-19 patient at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on December 17. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration on Friday night authorized a second coronavirus vaccine for emergency use as Covid-19 hospitalizations, cases and deaths are piling up in unprecedented ways.

The FDA had signaled it would issue the authorization quickly for Moderna's vaccine candidate, after the agency's vaccine advisers voted Thursday to recommend approval.

"The emergency use authorization allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years and older," the FDA said in a tweet.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still needs to green-light the vaccine before shots can be administered -- and a CDC advisory panel is meeting this weekend to discuss it.

If all hurdles are cleared, Moderna's vaccine could be given in the US next week -- joining Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine, which rolled out this week, with first doses primarily being given to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

"It's an exciting time, but it's a heartbreaking time," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN Friday of the vaccines' arrivals. "The numbers (of cases, deaths and hospitalizations) are almost unspeakable at this point."

In the US, average daily cases, total hospitalizations and average daily deaths are still rising to levels not previously seen, as hospital staff around the country warn they're running out of space and energy to provide sufficient care

Read the full story:

11:41 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

Extra doses in Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine vials are safe and should be used, FDA says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A hospital pharmacist prepares a syringe with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from a vile that holds five doses at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia, on December 16.
A hospital pharmacist prepares a syringe with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from a vile that holds five doses at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia, on December 16. John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The extra doses in Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vials are safe and should be used, US Food and Drug Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said Friday.

It’s possible to squeeze out extra doses of Pfizer’s vaccine from the vials, if there is solution remaining in them after the standard five doses are given, the FDA said earlier this week.

“It's safe to use,” Hahn said in an interview with Michael Toscano on the “First Light” podcast. “If the appropriate dosage is in there, the volume for the vaccine, it should be used, and we have no concerns about that.”

Hahn said that it’s not uncommon for extra solution to be in vaccine vials.

“It's a very common thing,” he said. “There’s always some overage that occurs, just to make sure that there's enough for the doses that are said to be within the vial.”

It’s important to plan for anyone who receives one vaccine dose to get a second, Hahn said.

“If you want the 95% protection, the clinical trial shows that the two-dose regimen, 21 days apart, is what you need,” he said. “But given that this overage is in the vials, we believe that that can be factored into subsequent calculations.”