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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11:42 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Illinois hospital pauses Covid-19 vaccination after 4 workers experience reactions

From CNN's Gisela Crespo and Fenly Foxen

A hospital in a suburb of Chicago has temporarily stopped its Covid-19 vaccination program for frontline personnel after four workers experienced reactions.

Advocate Aurora Health said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WLS that as of Friday, four workers at Advocate Condell Medical Center, in Libertyville, Illinois, have experienced tingling and elevated heartrate symptoms shortly after receiving the vaccine. 

"At this time, we can share three team members are home and doing well, and one is receiving additional treatment," Advocate Aurora Health said in the statement.

The health care company noted these four workers represent "fewer than 0.15% of the approximately 3,000 who have so far received vaccinations across Advocate Aurora Health."

The company said the pause "will allow us time to better understand what may have caused these reactions," adding vaccination will continue in eight other locations across Illinois and Wisconsin.

11:48 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Parts of Britain will go into lockdown after Covid-19 strain proves to spread faster, prime minister says

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference in response to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic on December 19 in London.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference in response to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic on December 19 in London. Toby Melville/Pool/AP

Parts of Britain will go back into lockdown during Christmas after a newly identified strain of Covid-19 has proved to spread more quickly than previous strains of the virus. 

The British prime minister broke the news Saturday that London and the south east of England where cases are surging, will go into tier 4 restrictions on Sunday, which is akin to a lockdown.

“The spread is being driven by the new variant of the virus,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a news conference. “It appears to spread more easily and may be up to 70% more transmission-able than the earlier strain."

"This is now spreading very fast,” he added. “It is with a very heavy heart that I say we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.” 

Johnson outlined that in areas under the toughest restrictions, there will be no possibility for household mixing over Christmas. In areas under tier 3, mixing will now be restricted to Christmas Day. Earlier this week Johnson had ruled that up to three households could mix over the Christmas week. 

The entire nation is being asked not to travel and those under the highest level of restrictions will not be allowed to travel abroad except for work purposes. 

11:11 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

US remains "on track" to allocate 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by end of year, official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The United States remains "on track" to allocate 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to states nationwide by the end of the year, Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said during a news briefing on Saturday. 

The nation currently has two Covid-19 vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech's and Moderna's – authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration.

"We remain on track to allocate around 20 million doses of vaccine to all jurisdictions by the end of December, with distribution of those doses pushing into the first week of January," Perna said on Saturday morning.

"While this second vaccine from Moderna, added on to Pfizer, now allows us as a whole of America to be on the offense, we are a long way from being finished," Perna said. "Each shipment of vaccine is another few yards gained, but any good player or coach knows that you still need defense, along with offense, to win the game. I join our health professionals in urging Americans to stay diligent in their defense. Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay socially distanced."

 

11:55 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Distribution of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine has already begun," Operation Warp Speed official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A nurse prepares a shot of a Covid-19 vaccine during the Moderna vaccine trial on July 27 in Binghamton, New York.
A nurse prepares a shot of a Covid-19 vaccine during the Moderna vaccine trial on July 27 in Binghamton, New York. Hans Pennink/AP

Distribution of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine now has commenced in the United States, Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said during a briefing on Saturday. 

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine on Friday.

"Distribution of Moderna vaccine has already begun," Perna said on Saturday morning.

"Boxes are being packed and loaded today. Trucks will begin rolling out tomorrow, from FedEx and UPS, delivering vaccines and kits to the American people across the United States," Perna said. "This week, in total, between Pfizer and Moderna, we have allocated 7.9 million doses of vaccine."

11:46 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Meet the 8-year-old boy who started a food pantry to help neighbors struggling through the pandemic

Cavanaugh Bell, 8, started a food pantry in his neighborhood.
Cavanaugh Bell, 8, started a food pantry in his neighborhood. CNN

Cavanaugh Bell, 8, used his $600 in savings to start a food pantry in an effort to help neighbors in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bell shared some words of encouragement today during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall for other children who may be looking for ways to give back in their communities.

"I'd say stay positive and try and find the good things that are happening right now, like being able to spend time with your family. Finding ways to help your community is also fun and can give kids a way to feel powerful and feel like they matter right now," Bell said.

Watch Cavanaugh Bell's message for children who want to help:

12:21 p.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Feeding America CEO is "very optimistic" about where the US is heading

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the CEO of Feeding America, speaks during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall on Saturday.
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the CEO of Feeding America, speaks during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall on Saturday. CNN

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the CEO of Feeding America, shared words of encouragement today during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall for families struggling in the US under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm excited to share that I am very optimistic about where we are going. I've got to tell you I think of it in terms of almost like sunrise. I'm not the weather lady, so I don't know exactly when the sun's going to rise but I know it's going to happen and what we are dealing with now and what people have been dealing with for a long time, I think we get past that, too," Babineaux-Fontenot said.

Babineaux-Fontenot added: "It might be different. And it's okay that we're going to sometimes feel scared and sometimes upset but think we are going to get through it together because I get to see so many people around the country and around the world who are out there trying to help their neighbors. We are going to get through this because we're going to do it together."

Watch Feeding America CEO's message:

10:55 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Wear a mask around family members even if they've been vaccinated, Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall on Saturday, December 19. 
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall on Saturday, December 19.  CNN

Even if an older family member has received a Covid-19 vaccine, it's still important for adults and children to wear a mask when around them, Dr. Anthony Fauci said today during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall.

"Well, if your grandparent gets it, you still need to be careful and wear a mask because until we get this blanket of protection over everyone you can't be absolutely certain there isn't virus there," Fauci said in response to a child's video question. "Vaccines are extremely important to ending this outbreak but until we get the full component of almost everyone vaccinated, we can't abandon the common public health measures of wearing a mask. So yes, you still should be wearing a mask."

Why Dr. Fauci says you should still wear a mask around vaccinated family members:

10:25 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Fauci explains why children have not been given the Covid-19 vaccine yet

Protecting children is very "important" which is why the Covid-19 vaccine has not been administered to them yet, Dr. Anthony Fauci said today during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall today.

"It's important to preserve the safety of children. We are very concerned that we want to make sure we emphasize the safety of vaccines so when you get a new vaccine you generally want to show the safety and the efficacy in an adult population," Fauci said. "Once you do, then you start doing trials, maybe a couple months later in the children so that you can quickly as possible get them the vaccine. So the reason why you're not hearing about our vaccinating children right now is because we want to wait a month or two."

Fauci added: "We're looking at January we're going to start some trials in children. We'll start with children who are a bit older and work our way down so that hopefully within a few months, we'll be able to tell children, what I know we'll be able to say, the vaccine is safe and effective in you and we're anxious to get you vaccinated. Hang in there, a couple of more months, and then we'll be in good shape."

Watch Dr. Fauci answer children's Covid-19 questions:

10:17 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci asks families to "stay safe" this holiday season

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall on Saturday, December 19. 
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall on Saturday, December 19.  CNN

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the US, called on Americans to protect themselves from the Covid-19 pandemic this holiday season.

"You can enjoy the family and the warmth of the holiday season and still stay safe and prevent yourself from getting infected by just doing some of the common things that we talk about;  appropriate wearing of masks, trying to keep some physical distance," Fauci said during CNN and Sesame Street's coronavirus town hall today. "If you can, try and do things outdoors a little bit more than indoors and importantly, you don't want to hang out in crowds with a lot of people around. I think your family and friends together you can still have a warm and enjoyable Christmas and holiday season right now and enjoy it to the fullest."

Fauci added: "Although we are in a serious time right now we need to take care of ourselves, we can still have fun and enjoy the holiday season."

Watch Dr. Fauci's message about the holidays: