December 28 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 29, 2020
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11:15 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

FDA issues updated guidance confirming providers can squeeze an extra dose or two out of Pfizer vaccine vials 

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

A doctor holds a vial containing the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine during vaccinations at a nursing home on December 27 in Grossraeschen, Germany.
A doctor holds a vial containing the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine during vaccinations at a nursing home on December 27 in Grossraeschen, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued an updated authorization letter and healthcare provider fact sheet on appropriate dosing of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

The agency said the updates are “consistent with previous FDA advice that it would be acceptable to use every full dose obtainable (the sixth, or possibly even a seventh) from each vial” until scientists can resolve the issue.

“However, since the vaccine does not contain preservative, it is critical to note that any further remaining product that does not constitute a full dose should not be pooled from multiple vials to create one,” the FDA said in a statement.

Almost two weeks ago, when the first Pfizer vaccines rolled out, some providers realized there was an extra dose or two in the vaccine vials that were supposed to contain only five shots. The FDA said at the time it was fine to squeeze an extra shot or two out of the vials. 

What's in the fact sheet? The fact sheet for healthcare providers is a summary of the instructions for administering a Covid-19 vaccine on how to store, thaw, prepare and administer the vaccine. 

The fact sheet includes a reminder to providers enrolled in the federal Covid-19 Vaccination Program to report all administration errors, serious adverse events, cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS) in adults and children, and cases of coronavirus that result in hospitalizations or death following a Pfizer/BioNTech shot.

The instructions contain a warning against giving the Pfizer vaccine to people with a history of severe allergic reactions. The agency said treatment used to manage severe allergic reactions must be immediately available onsite in case of an anaphylactic reaction.

The agency also warned against mixing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, specifying that an initial Pfizer shot should be followed up with another Pfizer shot three weeks later, and the same for the Moderna vaccine. 

10:38 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Canada has now reported more than 15,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

A paramedic stands next to an ambulance outside a hospital in Montreal, Canada, on Monday, December 28.
A paramedic stands next to an ambulance outside a hospital in Montreal, Canada, on Monday, December 28. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press/AP

Canada has reported more than 15,000 Covid-19 deaths, according to data from the country's Public Health Agency published Monday.

The country is now reporting 555,207 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 15,121 total deaths.

9:50 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Coronavirus has been with us for a year. Here's what we still don't know

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth

When China first reported cases of coronavirus to the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019, it was described as a mysterious new strain of pneumonia. It didn't even have a name.

Within two weeks, Chinese scientists had identified the virus' genome sequence, the genetic code that makes up the virus. Within three weeks, the first test kits had been created and then shared by the WHO. And just over 11 months since the virus was reported to the WHO, the first people were vaccinated, making the shots the fastest vaccines ever developed.

The speed at which we've learned about coronavirus is unprecedented and scientists say we already know a remarkable amount.

But one year on, with more than 81 million reported infections and 1.7 million deaths around the world, there's still a lot we don't know about Covid-19.

Those unknowns range from the basics -- such as how the virus started -- to the more complicated questions, including how will this pandemic end?

Read the full story:

8:53 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

South Korea records highest daily Covid-19 death toll

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

South Korea reported 40 coronavirus-related deaths for Monday, the highest number of fatalities reported in a single day since the pandemic began, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

In a statement released on Tuesday, the KDCA said the country’s total death toll due to Covid-19 is now at 859.

South Korea reported 1,046 new cases of Covid-19 for Monday, 1,030 of which were locally transmitted. Of those, 802 infections were from the Seoul metropolitan area. 

The East Asian country has recorded a total of 58,725 Covid-19 cases, the statement said.

9:04 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Health expert explains how hospitals can ration care as Covid-19 hospitalizations hit record high 

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner.
CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Source: CNN via Cisco Webex

CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner explained how providers could start rationing care as coronavirus hospitalizations hit a record high in the United States on Monday.

“I've had conversations with families hundreds or even thousands of times when a loved one gets acutely ill, and we try and decide what the family would want,” Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN’s Bianna Golodryga. 
“When you run out of capacity, physicians and bioethicists in these hospitals will need to decide which patients are salvageable -- potentially salvageable -- and which patients aren't,” he explained. “So, the final decision in many instances may not be up to the family.”

The US reported 121,235 current Covid-19 hospitalizations Monday, a record high since the pandemic began. 

“If you don't have respirators, you don't have nurses to care for patients, you don't have ICU beds, we will have to have these terrible discussions with families, which is why people need to stay home, and when they go out, they need to wear a mask,” he said.

7:37 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

US needs to ramp up Covid-19 vaccination effort, health expert says

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Ashish Jha.
Dr. Ashish Jha. Source: CNN

The US needs to ramp up its Covid-19 vaccination effort, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said Monday.

“I do think we have a problem,” Jha told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “I think one part of the problem is that the federal government has thought that their responsibility ends when the vaccine gets delivered to the states. There's a lot of work of getting the vaccine from the state into people's arms, and we needed a clear set of plans than we've had on that.”

“You're hearing from the manufacturers, like Pfizer, saying they've got millions of doses sitting around waiting for those vaccine doses to be allocated,” he added. 

Jha noted that other countries, like Israel and Canada, are moving at a much faster pace on their own vaccination efforts.  

“We really do have to ramp this up,” he said. “Things are in a crisis.”

7:25 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Registered Nurse Jacqueline Fiel tends to a Covid-19 patient inside the intensive care unit of Providence St. Jude Medical Center on December 25 in Fullerton, California. 
Registered Nurse Jacqueline Fiel tends to a Covid-19 patient inside the intensive care unit of Providence St. Jude Medical Center on December 25 in Fullerton, California.  Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The United States reported 121,235 Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 27th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations.

According to CTP data, these days had the highest hospitalization numbers:

  • Dec. 28: 121,235 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 24: 120,151 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 23: 119,463 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 25: 118,948 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 27: 118,720 people hospitalized
6:03 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

House votes to increase stimulus checks to $2,000

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and Clare Foran

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images


The House has passed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act of 2020 by the slimmest of margins, with just enough Republicans crossing over and supporting a measure that was championed by President, and sending the bill to the Senate.

The provision increases the amount of money individuals and families receive in stimulus checks, and echoes demands made by Trump over the past week to provide more funding to Americans suffering economic hardship in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 275-134 vote, which garnered enough bipartisan support to reach the two-thirds majority threshold required to pass under suspension, increases the amount of the stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per individual.

Eligibility for the checks is determined by a person’s most recent tax returns. Anyone who made under $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 as a couple would receive the full amount. The amount individuals receive decreases by $5 for every $100 a person makes over $75,000. In short, that means that individuals who make over $99,000 would not be eligible nor would couples making more than $198,000.

What's next: Now that the bill has passed the House with Republican votes, it will put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a tough position of having to decide whether to bring the provision to the floor in the Senate as a standalone bill.

While the President has been urging Republicans up the payments, many Republicans in McConnell’s ranks have made it clear they don’t think an increase is warranted given how much it would increase the price tag of the stimulus bill. A vote on the checks would likely divide the GOP conference and force some members to endure Trump’s ire in his final days in office.

7:05 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Stay-at-home order in parts of California will likely be extended

From CNN's Sarah Moon

People walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk on December 27 in Los Angeles, California.
People walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk on December 27 in Los Angeles, California. Damian Dovarganes/AP

The regional stay-at-home order for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley is likely to be extended, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in a news conference on Monday.

While the three-week order was set to expire Monday, Newsom said it’s very likely that the order will be extended based on current trends. Intensive care unit bed capacity for these regions has fallen to 0%.

Once Monday's data is collected, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary, will announce projections based on a four-week period on Tuesday, according to Newsom. Stay-at-home orders for the greater Sacramento region will expire on Jan. 1 and a week after for the Bay Area.

California added 33,170 new cases of coronavirus and 64 additional deaths on Monday. Newsom warned that the slightly lower number of deaths is due to a reporting lag over the weekend.

The continued surge of cases and hospitalizations in the Southern California region is challenging the health care system, particularly in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, said Newsom. The state is deploying additional staff to Los Angeles County to assist.

The state is also partnering with CVS and Walgreens to provide doses of the Pfizer vaccine to residents and staff in long-term care facilities, Newsom announced. Pharmacy staff will be administering the vaccine by going directly to care facilities.

A total of 261,672 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered as of Dec. 26, Newsom said. By the end of this week, California will have received 1.76 million doses of the vaccine. 

The state is also discussing the next phase of vaccine distribution, which includes people over 75 years of age, workers in education and childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture.

To date, California has a total of 2,155,976 coronavirus cases and 24,284 deaths.

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