December 23 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, Eoin McSweeney, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 24, 2020
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11:39 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

At least 614,117 vaccine doses have been administered in the US

From CNN's Haley Brink

At least 4,624,325 vaccine doses have been distributed in the US and at least 614,117 doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In terms of cases, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally, there have been at least 18,255,974 cases of coronavirus in the country. At least 323,274 people have died in the US from coronavirus. 

So far today, Johns Hopkins has reported 25,732 new cases and 509 reported deaths.

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

11:12 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

Operation Warp Speed is using the Defense Production Act for vaccine materials

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

The Trump administration is using its authorities under the Defense Production Act to “prioritize access to the critical materials and supplies necessary to expand vaccine production,” a Health and Human Services Spokesperson tells CNN in a statement. 

The statement says Operation Warp Speed is using “selective application of DPA authorities” to facilitate production of the six vaccines it is supporting, including the Pfizer vaccine.

Today HHS announced it reached a deal with Pfizer to purchase 100 million more doses of the pharmaceutical company’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Pfizer had been seeking help from OWS to secure crucial materials in order to deliver the vaccine on an expedited timeline.

11:15 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

Tennessee governor extends state of emergency through February 2021

From CNN's Kay Jones

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks with reporters in Nashville on November 10.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks with reporters in Nashville on November 10. Mark Humphrey/AP

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee extended the state of emergency through the end of February.

In the executive order published on Tuesday, Lee wrote that he is declaring "a continuing state of emergency and major disaster in order to facilitate the response to COVID-19".

The order goes into effect on Dec. 29 and runs through Feb. 27, 2021. 

It allows for retired medical professionals to reenter the workforce and out-of-state medical professionals to practice in the state. Additional provisions in the order include allowing graduates of nursing programs after Dec. 1 to practice without taking the nursing exam. 

It also encourages social distancing and "strongly urges" mask wearing, while not requiring either.

The latest numbers: Tennessee has at least 534,019 total Covid-19 positive cases, as of Tuesday's report. At least 2,934 patients are hospitalized statewide due to Covid-19, according to the most recent dashboard.

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.

10:47 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

AstraZeneca submits full vaccine data to UK regulator

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

AstraZeneca has summited the full data package for the vaccine it has developed with Oxford university to Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed during a news conference on Wednesday. 

“I'm delighted to be able to tell you that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine developed here in the UK has submitted its full data package to the MHRA for approval,” Hancock said. “This is the next step towards a decision on the deployment of the vaccine which is already being manufactured, including here in the UK.”

“Amid all this difficulty, the great hope for 2021 is of course the vaccine,” he also said.

11:59 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

UK reports two cases of a second Covid-19 variant from South Africa, health secretary says

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks at a press conference in London on December 23.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks at a press conference in London on December 23.  Kirsty Wigglesworth/WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Health authorities have detected two cases of yet another new variant of Covid-19, originally identified in South Africa, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday. 

“This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK,” Hancock said. “Both are contacts of cases who have traveled from South Africa over the past few weeks."

The Health Secretary announced new restrictions for travelers arriving in the UK from South Africa and also told those who have been in contact with people arriving from South Africa, in the past 15 days, to go into quarantine immediately. 

“These measures are temporary while we investigate further this new strain which is shortly to be analyzed at Porton Down,” he said.

10:45 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

"Money is piling up against me:" An extended eviction ban might not be enough

From CNN’s Anna Bahney

Kelly Green said she has a roof over her head only because of the CDC eviction moratorium.
Kelly Green said she has a roof over her head only because of the CDC eviction moratorium. Kelly Green

Millions of struggling renters will likely be protected from eviction — at least for another month.

The stimulus bill that was passed by Congress late Monday night would extend a national ban on evictions until Jan. 31. The package would also provide $25 billion in emergency rental assistance. But the relief bill still needs to be signed by President Trump.

But, should the package go through, neither of the measures will likely be enough to keep the most at-risk renters in their homes past January. 

Struggling to stay afloat

Kelly Green, who lives in a $1,429-a-month apartment in Daytona Beach, Florida, has not been able to pay rent since September. 

"The only reason I have a roof over my head is because of the eviction moratorium," Green said.

Green makes her living selling rhinestone- and sequined-biker apparel at motorcycle rallies and other festivals. 

After the shutdown in March, there were no festivals, no events and she had no income. Still, she cobbled together her savings, stimulus payment, rent relief and unemployment insurance payments and managed to get current on her rent through July. But she didn't know how she'd make ends meet after the $600 a week supplemental unemployment support ended.��

Green heard about a coronavirus-related rent relief fund offered by Volusia County, where she lives. She applied for assistance and was awarded $4,500 for three months' rent. 

But there was a snag: The Volusia County rent assistance program requires tenants to have been current on rent as of March 13, 2020. Green was behind on her rent in February and, as a result, her apartment complex wouldn't accept the aid.

Without that money, Green was unable to pay full rent for October, November or December. And since she overstayed her lease in November, she's now on a month-to-month lease that is $500 more expensive a month.

"Even if the moratorium is extended, money is piling up against me," she said. "What would help me the most is if I receive a check for rental assistance for three months, that they take it." 

Read the full story here.

 

11:05 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

What you need to know about getting a Covid-19 vaccine 

From CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin

A health care worker at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Oregon receives a Covid-19 vaccination on December 16.
A health care worker at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Oregon receives a Covid-19 vaccination on December 16. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

With two Covid-19 vaccines approved for emergency use and politicians, health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities rolling up their sleeves, but when will you be able to get the vaccine?

The answer depends on each person's health, what they do for a living and where they live.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, Biden's nominee for surgeon general, said he believes it may take until late spring to finish vaccinating high-risk populations, if all goes according to plan. That means mid-summer may be a "realistic" timeline for the general public to begin vaccinations, he told NBC.

Here are key things to know:

Who is first in line?

  • Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are first in line, followed by adults ages 75 and older and frontline essential workers such as first responders.
  • The next phase will be adults between 65 and 75, those between 16 and 64 with high-risk medical conditions and "other essential workers," according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Who is an essential worker?

  • The ACIP defines frontline essential workers as anyone employed in "sectors essential to the functioning of society (who) are at substantially higher risk of exposure" to the coronavirus.
  • Besides first responders, that includes those working in education and child care, food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections, the US Postal Service, public transit and grocery stores. There are roughly 30 million people in this category.

Who is making decisions at the state level?

  • It will ultimately fall on state governors to make calls on who gets the vaccinations and when,  Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said. However, most states have advisory committees or tasks forces in their health and preparedness agencies that will provide recommendations to governors.
  • While the ACIP issues guidelines of who gets the first doses, states are free to make their own decisions.

Read more here.

Age, pregnancy, allergies: Is the vaccine right for you?

10:01 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

US Covid-19 hospitalizations reach a record high as people continue to travel for the holiday

From CNN's Haley Brink and Elise Hammond

A respiratory therapist cares for a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in California on December 21.
A respiratory therapist cares for a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in California on December 21. Mario Tama/Getty Images

As the holidays quickly approach, the US reported a record high number of Covid-19 hospitalizations and a surge in new cases and deaths.

This comes as the Transportation Security Administration is reporting record-high pandemic travel and said that it screened more than 4 million air travelers between Friday and Monday.

If Americans disregard the dire situation and continue with holiday travel plans, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that it "could be a very difficult January."

Here's a look at where things stand right now in the US:

Vaccinations

  • So far, at least 4,624,325 doses of the vaccines have been delivered across the US. Of those, 614,117 vaccines have been administered according to the CDC

Hospitalizations

  • The US reported a new record high number of at least 117,777 hospitalizations on Tuesday, according to CTP data. The US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations for 21 consecutive days. 
  • The US is now averaging about 114,621 hospitalizations over the last 7 days, this is up 4.23% since last week.   

New Cases

  • On Tuesday, the US reported at least 195,033 cases of Covid-19, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
  • Right now the US averages about 214,896 Covid-19 cases per day, which is a 1% increase from last week. 
  • So far, the month of December has seen the most reported cases than any other month of the pandemic, surpassing November.

Deaths

  • The US reported it second highest number of new deaths on Tuesday with at least 3,401. This is only the fifth time since the beginning of the pandemic that there has been more than 3,000 deaths in a single day.
  • The nation averages at least 2,715 reported deaths a day, according to JHU. This is the highest this metric has ever been.  
  • Deaths continue to rise in 21 states compared to this time last week.  

Here's a look at where cases are rising across the country:

9:46 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020

New York City reports first serious allergic reaction to Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Sheena Jones

The New York City Health Department is reporting the first serious adverse allergic reaction to the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a statement.

“We have received a single report of a serious adverse event in a health care worker. The health care worker, who had a significant allergic reaction, has been treated and is in stable condition,” according to the press release.

At this time it is unclear if this adverse reaction is a result of the Pfizer vaccine, but the health department says reactions like this are rare, but note they have been reported with the Pfizer vaccine.

Nearly 30,000 vaccinations have been administered in the city, according to the release and the city along with CDC will continue tracking more severe side effects.

“We will continue to move forward with the coronavirus vaccine distribution to ensure that health care workers and nursing home staff and residents are protected against COVID-19,” according to the release.