December 30 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0502 GMT (1302 HKT) December 31, 2020
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3:45 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

About 6,700 fans will be allowed at Buffalo Bills playoff game, governor says

Bills Stadium is seen before a game on December 13.
Bills Stadium is seen before a game on December 13. Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Approximately 6,700 fans will be allowed to attend the upcoming Buffalo Bills first playoff game, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Cuomo said the decision to allow fans at the first playoff game was an agreement between the New York Department of Health, the Buffalo Bills, and the National Football League.

All fans will need to be tested for Covid-19 before the game and anyone with a positive test will not be allowed to attend.

Every fan must wear a mask from when they leave their vehicle in the parking lot to when they reenter their vehicles to go home. All fans will be sitting in socially-distanced “pods” with the people they came with, Robert Mujica, New York State’s Budget Director, said Wednesday. 

No tailgating or congregating will be allowed. Following the game, contact-tracing will occur to monitor any possible spread of Covid-19, Cuomo said.

Any fans who refuse to comply will be removed from the premises, Dr. Howard Zucker, New York’s Health Commissioner, said Wednesday.

The outdoor, controlled venue at the upcoming Buffalo Bills game will serve as a “pilot” program to test ways the state can reopen businesses and events smartly and safety, Cuomo said.

3:42 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

McConnell takes definitive stance against moving forward on $2,000 Covid-19 stimulus checks

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Ali Zaslav 

Senate TV
Senate TV

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a definitive stance against moving forward on a House-passed bill to increase direct stimulus payments to $2,000, criticizing the policy and making it clear nothing will move forward in the chamber that doesn’t include President Trump’s other two priorities: a full repeal of online liability protections and an investigation into voter fraud. 

"The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. 

McConnell, on Tuesday, introduced legislation that combined the three Trump priorities – each a pre-requisite for Trump signing the Covid-19 relief and spending package earlier this week.

McConnell, on Wednesday, made clear that the introduction of that legislation met the contours of the agreement with Trump, which stipulated only starting the process to vote on the issues. 

As it currently stands, there are no votes scheduled on McConnell’s bill, or the House-passed legislation, and GOP aides say it’s likely the 116th Congress comes to an end without any action on increasing direct payments. 

The Kentucky Republican opened up his floor remarks Wednesday blasting Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders for holding up the NDAA override vote. 

“Today the Senate was supposed to finish legislation securing critical tools, training and support for America’s armed forces. But the junior senator from Vermont had other ideas,” he said.

McConnell added: "We'll stay on this important bill until we complete it, one way or another.”

Sanders has said he will delay the NDAA override vote unless McConnell brings a $2,000 checks to a vote on the floor. A final vote could stretch into Saturday if Sanders continues to hold it up. Eventually, though, it will pass. It's just a matter of how long this takes.

3:32 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

NBA announces zero new positive Covid-19 tests among players

From CNN's Jacob Lev 

Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images
Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images

The NBA says no players tested positive for Covid-19 during the league's latest testing window.

According to the league and the NBA Players Association, 495 tests have been administered since Dec. 24 with zero positive results for the virus.

The latest results are down from last week, in which two new players returned a positive test for Covid-19. 

3:20 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Belgium tightens rules for travelers to prevent spread of new Covid-19 variant 

From CNN’s James Frater

Travelers walk at Brussels Airport in Belgium after flights to the United Kingdom resumed on December 23.
Travelers walk at Brussels Airport in Belgium after flights to the United Kingdom resumed on December 23. Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Belgium has stepped up its rules for travelers arriving in the country to prevent the possible spread of the new variant of Covid-19, a press release from the prime minister's office said Wednesday.

These are the new measures:

  • Starting Thursday, there will now be a mandatory quarantine for anyone who has been outside of Belgium for more than 48 hours. 
  • There will be a mandatory test on day one and day seven of quarantine.
  • Quarantine can only end if a person receives a valid negative Covid-19 test result on day seven.
  • If a person tests positive on day seven, the clock resets and they have to quarantine for another seven days when you will again need to have a valid negative test.

This measure will provisionally apply until Jan. 15.

Belgium had imposed a partial travel ban on UK travelers from Dec. 23 to Dec. 31, which allowed some limited essential travel.

3:05 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

One person dies from coronavirus in Los Angeles County every 10 minutes

From CNN's Sarah Moon and Cheri Mossburg

The number of Covid-19 deaths reached a new high in California on Wednesday.

California recorded 432 new fatalities, the highest reported in a single day so far. In Southern California, Los Angeles County officials described the grim situation there in a tweet Wednesday, and said one person dies from Covid-19 every 10 minutes.

Some of these deaths are believed to be part of a backlog announced by Los Angeles Tuesday. The number of people who have died from the virus in the Golden State is nearly 25,000.

Gov. Gavin Newsom called the high number of fatalities “very, very sobering.”

California added 30,921 cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to more than 2.2 million Covid-19 infections. More than 746,000 of those are in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous. About 40% of Californians who died of Covid-19 lived in Los Angeles County.

Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions remain at an all-time high. ICU capacity is down to 0% statewide, with the brunt of the impact in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. Projections for each region show the demand for ICU beds exceeding capacity for at least the next four weeks.

There is some glimmer of optimism, as the positivity rate in California is showing a slight dip and has dropped to a two-week average of 12.2%. 

Note: These numbers were released by the California Department of Public Health and Los Angeles County 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. 

3:04 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," dies of Covid-19 complications

From CNN’s Lisa France

Actress Dawn Wells is seen in September 2019.
Actress Dawn Wells is seen in September 2019. Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Dawn Wells, who played the lovable castaway Mary Ann Summers on "Gilligan's Island," died in Los Angeles Wednesday from Covid-19 complications, her publicist Harlan Boll confirmed to CNN.

She was 82.

This story is developing.

2:53 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Sweden requires negative coronavirus test from UK travelers coming into the country

From CNN’s James Frater and Duarte Mendonca

Passengers traveling from the United Kingdom to Sweden are now required to show a negative coronavirus test result in order to enter the country, the Swedish government announced on Wednesday.

The new conditions will go into action on Jan. 1 —  with the lifting of a flight ban from the UK, previously set to Jan. 21 —  and won’t be applicable to Swedish residents, the statement said.

“Swedish citizens and everyone transporting goods from the UK are exempt from the ban. The same applies to people who live or work in Sweden, people with imperative family reasons and diplomats," the statement said.

Sweden expects these new measures to “reduce the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus, especially the new variant of the virus discovered in the UK."

2:38 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

US has administered nearly 2.6 million vaccine doses, according to CDC

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

Nearly 2.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States, according to data given to CNN by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, 12,409,050 doses were distributed.

That's an additional 461,982 doses distributed, and 963,875 doses administered since the CDC's figures were last updated on Monday.

2:24 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine may be authorized in February for emergency use

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A medical worker in Barcelona, Spain, administers an injection December 17 during a trial of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.
A medical worker in Barcelona, Spain, administers an injection December 17 during a trial of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Angel Garcia/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine may be authorized for emergency use in February and could be a “game-changer” for the US, Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed (OWS), said Wednesday.

Slaoui said Phase 3 trial recruitment for the vaccine has been completed.

“We feel more and more confident that readout of efficacy will take place during the month of January, and very likely that an EUA submission will take place during the month of January,” said Slaoui, adding that he hopes approval of the submission will be reached in the first half of February. 

Slaoui said OWS is working with Johnson & Johnson to accelerate the availability of its vaccine doses. The vaccine requires a single dose, which may make the logistics around its distribution and administration easier.

“I think it can be quite a game-changer,” Slaoui said. “We're hopeful that this vaccine, which is a one-shot vaccine will have equivalent efficacy to those of Moderna and Pfizer." 

Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccines both require two doses and have more than 94% efficacy.