San Francisco Shuts Down; U.S. States Hit Records: Virus Update
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With cases nationwide at a high, U.S. states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon and Arkansas reported a record number of cases. Iowa hit its highest number of new Covid-19 deaths for a second straight day. New York City’s average cases and positive-test rate continued to climb as Mayor Bill de Blasio advised people over 65 and with health conditions to stay home.
Five of the biggest counties in the San Francisco Bay area are imposing shelter-in-place rules through Christmas and New Year’s Day. For the first time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans should be wearing a maskindoors whenever they’re outside their own home.
President-elect Joe Biden says he’ll take a coronavirus vaccine to demonstrate itssafety. BioNTech SE said it’s on track to produce 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine with partner Pfizer Inc. this year,easing concerns that they might miss production targets.
- Global Tracker: Cases exceed 65.7 million; deaths top 1.51 million
- Tracking the coronavirus vaccines that will end the pandemic
- Pelosi seesstimulus momentum as GOP grouses on state aid
- U.S. jobsrecovery slows as virus rages, boosting aid chances
- Vaccine confusion leaves states asking how many doses they get
- Covid fightersrun out of weapons with virus spreading in homes
- Airport testing is a long-haul solution, if it ever takes flight
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Pelosi, Governors Discuss Aid for Vaccine Distribution (7:40 a.m. HK)
Four Democratic Midwestern governors and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed on Friday pending fiscal stimulus legislation that in part would help states pay to distribute any vaccines against the Covid-19 disease that receive government approval.
Pelosi spoke with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to discuss a bipartisan version of the legislation, which currently includes about $16 billion for vaccine distribution, Walz said during a Friday conference call with reporters. But he claimed his health experts concluded the actual cost will be closer to $28 billion.
Walz said he’s pushing for “a broad-based package that supports all 50 states.” Other governors have different ideas. Evers, for instance, on Thursday said he wants the bill to earmark $466 million to pay specifically for Wisconsin’s Covid-19 expected expenses during the first three months of 2021.
Tennessee Calls in National Guard to Care for Virus Victims (7:04 a.m. HK)
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee authorized National Guard members to care for the rapidly rising number of Covid-19 patients, as part of an executive order expanding the range of people who can carry out medical duties. The order came in response to severe strain on the medical system that has left the state with only 155 out of 2,047 intensive care beds available and 1,555 of 11,499 hospital beds open,state data show.
The state’s outbreak has intensified over the last week, with an average of about 1,500 more daily cases than just a week ago.
Arkansas Hits Record (5:26 p.m. NY)
Arkansas reported 2,827 cases, setting a record for the second consecutive day. The state also reported its third day this week with more than 30 fatalities. Governor Asa Hutchinson said the state was at a “critical point” in its surge. “This battle will not be won by the actions of a few,” the Republican said in a tweet. “It will take each Arkansan doing our part to win this fight.”
San Francisco Bay Area Adopts Lockdown Measures (4:54 p.m. NY)
Five of the biggest counties in the San Francisco Bay area are imposingshelter-in-place rules through Christmas and New Year’s Day even before they meet California’s threshold for locking down the economy, seeking to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed as the coronavirus surges.
The counties — encompassing areas including San Francisco, Oakland and much of Silicon Valley — plan to adopt measures including shutting down personal care services, outdoor restaurant operations and several other businesses, county health officers said at a press briefing Friday. The rules will be effective Dec. 6 until Jan. 4.
N.Y. Records Highest Positive Rate Since Mid-May (4:43 p.m. NY)
New York state registered the highest rate of positive virus tests since mid-May, according to data released Friday. Of the 208,297 tests reported the prior day, 11,271, or 5.41%, were positive.
Total hospitalizations on Thursday rose by 159 to 4,222, and there were 60 new Covid-19 fatalities, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing.
In March and April, 25% of those hospitalized went to the ICU, and 80% of those in the ICU were intubated, which drove the ventilator crisis, he said. Currently, 18% of those hospitalized go to the ICU, and only 45% are intubated.
The average length of stay in March and April was 11 days; it’s now fewer than five days, Cuomo said. “People are in the hospital for less than half the time they were before.”
Cuomo called the data encouraging, saying of those hospitalized in the spring, 23% died, and that number is now down to 8%.
He also said the federal government is offering a program to vaccinate all nursing home workers and residents that the state will join. New York has about 80,000 nursing home residents and 130,000 staff members, he said this week. The staff will be vaccinated on a rolling basis.
Biden Says He’ll Take Vaccine, Wants It to Be Free (4:34 p.m. NY)
President-elect Joe Biden says he’ll take a coronavirus vaccine to demonstrate itssafety to Americans and will work to ensure the vaccine and treatment of any side effects are provided free.
Speaking at a news conference in Delaware on Friday, Biden was asked about wariness among Americans, and particularly among African Americans, over taking a vaccine developed quickly and under a cloud of pressure from President Donald Trump’s administration.
“I think that my taking the vaccine and people seeing me take that vaccine is going to give some confidence,” Biden said. “In the meantime I need to make sure that the vaccine is both free and available. And that any follow-up to the vaccine is free and available — that relates to any health complications from it. So there’s ways we can deal with some of these issues.”
Ohio Governor Hints at More Restrictions (4:08 p.m. NY)
With cases, deaths and hospitalizations all near records, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine suggested he may enact tougher restrictions to reign in the virus. “We’re in a dangerous situation, & I think we can all agree that we can’t let our hospitals get to the point where healthcare is threatened,” the Republican governor said in a tweet. “We’ll have to do more. We don’t have a choice.”
The state reported 10,114 new cases, the fourth highest in the outbreak, and 129 deaths, the third highest. DeWine also said he expects three shipments of vaccine by the end of December, two from Pfizer and one from Moderna.
Oregon Breaks Record for Cases and Deaths (3:25 p.m. NY)
Oregon reported a record 2,176 new infections, taking the state’s cases over 80,000. It reported 30 more fatalities, also a record, the Oregon Health Authority said Friday.
The state just ended a two-week “freeze” that increased restrictions, but Governor Kate Brown said in a press briefing that modeling shows daily cases may still double by Christmas.
“Our hardest days still lie ahead,” she said. “Our new modeling confirms our worst fears: that this pandemic can indeed get much worse before we get the majority of our population vaccinated, and it likely will.”
Health Authority Director Patrick Allen he said he expected 71,900 doses of Moderna’s vaccine to be shipped on Dec. 22, with 87,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and another 31,700 of the Moderna shot on Dec. 29.
North Carolina Hits Record Hospitalizations (3:20 p.m. NY)
North Carolina hospitalizations rose to a record as cases passed 5,000 for the second consecutive day. The state reported 5,303 infections on Friday, the day after reaching a record 5,637. The number of people hospitalized reached 2,157, almost double from a month ago.
In a First, the CDC Says to Use Masks Indoors When Not Home (2:59 p.m. NY)
Americans should be wearing a maskindoors whenever they’re outside their own home, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending for the first time as Covid-19 surges across the country.
The recommendation on mask-wearing in all indoor sites came in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report, which cited a high-level transmission of the virus as the ongoing holiday season and colder weather have driven more people indoors.
“Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy critical to reducing respiratory transmission” of Covid-19, the report stated, adding that this was particularly important “in light of estimates that approximately one half of new infections are transmitted by persons who have no symptoms.”
California Hits Another Daily Record (2:21 p.m. NY)
California reported 22,018 new coronavirus cases, topping the previous record of about 20,000 hit just two days ago. Hospitalizations also climbed to new highs, reaching 9,948 patients, a 2.5% increase from the prior day.
The figures underscore a rapidly escalating crisis in California, where infections a month ago averaged around 4,400 a day. Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday said the state will start lockdowns on a regional basis once intensive-care unit availability falls below 15% — a threshold that some areas are in danger of crossing within days.
Across the state, there are 1,673 ICU beds available, a decrease of 58 from Thursday and the fewest since the pandemic began, according to health department data.
N.J. Sees Daily Record of New Cases (2:07 p.m. NY)
New Jersey reported a record 5,673 cases as testing has greatly increased since the pandemic’s early days. The state logged 48 deaths for a total 15,419 lab-confirmed fatalities. Hospitals have 3,315 patients, about 40% of their peak in April.
France’s Pace of Covid Deaths Slows to Lowest in a Month (1:47 p.m. NY)
France added 627 deaths, bringing the total to 54,767. That brought the the seven-day average for fatalities to 408, the lowest in a month.
New confirmed cases rose by 11,221 to 2.27 million, with the weekly pace dropping to the lowest since Sept. 21. Hospitalizations and patients in intensive care continued their decline from a mid-November peak.
The French are increasingly unwilling to get vaccinated, with 53% of those in a November survey planning to get the shot, down from 64% in July, health authorities said. In the July survey, 67% of naysayers cited the new vaccines not being safe as the reason not to get the shot, while 18% opposed vaccination in general.
Pennsylvania Hits Record Cases for Second Day (1:31 p.m. NY)
Pennsylvania reported 11,763 cases, the second consecutive day of record infections. The number of hospitalizations has increased 10-fold since the start of October, to about 5,000, as medical officials warned of a looming crisis and as intensive-care beds filled in some parts of the state.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, tweeted Friday. “Avoiding gatherings works. Staying home works. But it will take each one of us doing our part to stop the spread.”
Pfizer, BioNTech Near 2020 Vaccine Target, Easing Output Concern (1:17 p.m. NY)
BioNTech SE said it’s on track to produce 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine with partner Pfizer Inc. this year,easing concerns that they might miss production targets.
As of Friday, the companies had made the majority of the promised supply for this year, BioNTech said in a statement to Bloomberg. For next year, they’re looking for ways to increase production capacity beyond a promised 1.3 billion doses.
Iowa Hits Record Deaths for Second Straight Day (12:42 p.m. NY)
Iowa reported 84 more deaths, the second consecutive day of record fatalities, state datashow. Total deaths are now 2,603. The state posted another 2,901 new cases, in a week in which infections have trended lower than mid-November, when cases topped 5,000 on several days. The number of hospitalizations and intensive-care patients fell.
NYC Positivity Rate Highest Since May (12:36 p.m. NY)
New York City’s positivity rate for Covid-19 climbed to 5.43% in the 7-day period ending Dec. 2, the highest since late May. But public schools will still reopen Monday for those who’ve chosen to take part-time in-class instruction.
The weekly average for newly diagnosed cases reached 2,041 on Wednesday, up from 1,962 the previous day. Still, hospital admissions for patients with coronavirus symptoms dropped to 134 — 40 fewer than the day before, a level that Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s public and private hospitals could handle.
During an interview on WNYC radio, De Blasio warned people over 65 and those with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease to stay home and avoid contact with visitors unless it’s essential. Schools can reopen for pre-schoolers through 5th graders, de Blasio said, because they’ve been able to operate with “extraordinarily low transmission” for the past two months, with a positivity rate under 1%. “Our schools are literally safer than any place in New York City,” the mayor said.
JBS Sends Thousands of Meat Workers Home (11:59 a.m. NY)
The latest surge in Covid-19 cases is starting to impact American meat-processing operations, with JBS SA telling thousands of vulnerable members of its workforce tostay at home.
JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier, has put about 8% of its U.S. workforce on paid leave since coronavirus cases began to accelerate in October, a spokesman for the company said Friday. JBS USA employs about 64,400 people in the U.S., according to its website.
— With assistance by Ian Fisher, Kara Wetzel, Keshia Clukey, Marco Bertacche, Rudy Ruitenberg, Vivek Shankar, Nathan Crooks, Tatiana Freitas, Michael Hirtzer, Henry Goldman, Naomi Kresge, Elise Young, Josh Wingrove, Anna Edney, Emma Kinery, Billy House, Stephen Joyce, and Erik Wasson
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