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U.S. surpasses 12 million cases

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 12,002,863 confirmed cases and 255,567 deaths have been reported in the U.S.
Image: Healthcare workers prepare specimen collection tubes at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-thru testing location in Houston
Healthcare workers prepare specimen collection tubes at a Covid-19 drive-thru testing location in Houston on Friday.Adrees Latif / Reuters

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading coronavirus news from Nov. 22, 2020.

The United States topped 12 million cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, as the third wave's uncontrolled spread prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to urge Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving.

The country recorded more than 200,000 coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 12,002,863, according to NBC News' tally. The total number of deaths is 255,567.

The latest Covid-19 data and coverage:

1106d ago / 5:29 AM UTC

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler quarantining after inconclusive test results

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler is quarantining after receiving inconclusive Covid-19 test results following multiple campaign appearances earlier this week, her campaign said Saturday.

The news comes one day after Loeffler, a Republican locked in a competitive runoff race that could determine the balance of power in Congress, attended two campaign events on Friday alongside Vice President Mike Pence.

In photos shared on Twitter, neither Loeffler nor Pence appeared to be wearing masks.

According to her campaign, Loeffler took two rapid tests Friday morning before the events. The results came back negative. She was later informed that her PCR test, considered the gold standard in detecting genetic material specific to the coronavirus, was positive.

She was retested Saturday after consulting with medical officials and that result was inconclusive, Loeffler campaign spokesperson Stephen Lawson said in a statement. Loeffler remains asymptotic and will remain in quarantine until receiving conclusive test results, Lawson added.

Pence's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the full story.

1106d ago / 4:35 AM UTC

California pub tries to keep calm, carry on with virus rules

A waitress serves beer to patrons at Ye Olde King's Head on Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif. The British restaurant and bar has been battered the past nine months.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — By most measures of what keeps a pub afloat, the coronavirus pandemic should already have Ye Olde King's Head on its last kegs.

The British restaurant and bar in Southern California has been battered the past nine months. The mock Tudor fixture near the beach weathered a lengthy shutdown in the spring, a destructive ransacking during police protests in May and public health orders that have required constant adaptation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom placed most California businesses under the most severe restrictions on Monday and on Thursday added a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for residents that takes effect Saturday.

“It’s like every week there’s a different rule to follow,” said operations manager Lisa Powers, who has guided the 46-year-old institution through an ever-changing set of public health orders.

When the pandemic hit, the King's Head had to offer its traditional British fare — everything from bangers and mash and fish and chips to traditional Sunday roast — for takeout. It's now reopened as is the adjoining gift “shoppe” offering imported tea, biscuits, Marmite spread and British newspapers.

1107d ago / 3:00 AM UTC
1107d ago / 1:51 AM UTC

FDA authorizes Regeneron antibody cocktail

Image: Regeneron
A Regeneron Pharmaceuticals scientist works in the company's Infectious Disease Lab in New York state, for efforts on an experimental coronavirus antibody drug.Regeneron / via AP file

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration green lit emergency authorization for an experimental drug cocktail shown to be effective in preventing severe illness in people infected with the coronavirus.

The drug, developed by Regeneron, was approved to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 cases for both adults and children over the age of 12 who are at risk of developing severe symptoms. This includes people 65 years of age and older and those with chronic medical conditions. 

In a clinical trial of people with the coronavirus, patients who received a cocktail containing the monoclonal antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab showed reduced instances of hospitalization and emergency room visits. Monoclonal antibodies are made in a lab to mimic the body's natural antibodies that fight off harmful pathogens, such as viruses.

Casirivimab and imdevimab must be administered intravenously and are not approved for patients who require oxygen therapy as a result of Covid-19.

The FDA said it will continue to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the treatment, it said in a statement.

1107d ago / 12:59 AM UTC
1107d ago / 12:56 AM UTC

Ben Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after battling virus

Image: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin And HUD Secretary Carson Testify Before The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee
Housing Secretary Ben Carson testifies during a Senate hearing last year.Zach Gibson / Getty Images file

STERLING, Va. — Housing Secretary Ben Carson is crediting unapproved, experimental treatments with saving his life after he became “desperately ill” following his infection with the coronavirus.

There is no medical evidence that the treatments Carson cited worked.

A retired neurosurgeon, Carson said Friday that he believes he's “out of the woods." He disclosed that his wife, Candy, also had COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes. Carson tested positive earlier this month.

Most people recover from the disease, which has killed more than 250,000 Americans and sickened nearly 12 million, including President Donald Trump and members of his family.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Carson said he was “extremely sick” but saw “dramatic improvement” after taking a botanical treatment derived from the oleander plant. Carson said he has underlying conditions, which he did not specify, “and after a brief period when I only experienced minor discomfort, the symptoms accelerated and I became desperately ill.”

1107d ago / 11:37 PM UTC

England will end Covid-19 lockdown with stricter tiered system

LONDON — England will end a national Covid-19 lockdown on Dec. 2 and move into tougher tiered regional restrictions than before, with more areas facing severe constraints to prevent the virus from reigniting, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office said.

Johnson ordered England in to a monthlong lockdown in early November after infection cases and deaths started to rise again, angering businesses and some of his own political party over the economic consequences.

A second wave of infections has started to flatten, official data shows, but scientific advisers are expected to warn on Monday that previous regional restrictions did not go far enough and harder measures are needed to prevent another national lockdown.

Britain has suffered the worst death toll in Europe and the deepest economic contraction of any G7 nation, prompting sharp criticism of Johnson's handling of the pandemic.

1107d ago / 11:20 PM UTC

Facing new restrictions, protesters gather outside Minnesota governor's home

Facing the first day of new pandemic restrictions in Minnesota because of a surge in coronavirus cases, about 300 people gathered outside the St. Paul home of Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday to protest the rules.

"There was a group of about 300 people gathered in front of the Governor’s Residence this afternoon," St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said by email. "They were there at 2 p.m., peacefully made their voices heard for a couple hours, and then left."

No one was arrested, he said.

The governor on Wednesday announced new, monthlong restrictions that include prohibitions on social gatherings, dine-in service for bars and restaurants and closing gyms, entertainment venues and event spaces.

Since the pandemic began Minnesota has recorded 263,008 cases and 3,257 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center, about seven of 100 Minnesotans who take a coronavirus test turn out positive.

1107d ago / 10:26 PM UTC

Despite health officials' warnings, more than 1M people flew through U.S. airports on Friday

More than 1 million people flew through U.S. airports on Friday, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration, fueling fears of even greater spread of the virus. It was the second-heaviest domestic air traffic day since the start of the pandemic, despite pleas from health officials for Americans to stay home.

"This is the 2nd time since the pandemic passenger volume has surpassed 1 million," TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Health officials have warned that the burgeoning wave of infections could soon overwhelm the healthcare system if people do not follow public health guidance, particularly around not traveling and mingling with other households for Thursday's traditional Thanksgiving celebration.

The number of Thanksgiving air travelers was expected to decline by 47.5 percent from 2019, but nonetheless, 2.4 million people were forecast to take to the skies, according to a report earlier this month from the American Automobile Association. It said the number traveling by car was expected to fall by only about 4 percent. 

1107d ago / 10:06 PM UTC

Biden says people should be able to attend religious services during pandemic — with a caveat

After attending evening mass at St. Ann's church in Wilmington, Delaware, President-elect Biden was asked whether people in the country should be able to attend religious services during the pandemic.

“Yes," he said. "Safely." 

1107d ago / 7:55 PM UTC

What does emergency use of a Covid-19 vaccine mean?

What does emergency use of a Covid-19 vaccine mean?

It's when regulators allow shots to be given to certain people while studies of safety and effectiveness are ongoing.

Before any vaccine is permitted in the U.S., it must be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, which requires study in thousands of people. Normally, the process to approve a new vaccine can take about a decade. But the federal government is using various methods to dramatically speed up the process for Covid-19 vaccines.

During a health crisis, the FDA can loosen its normal scientific standards to allow emergency use of experimental drugs, devices, vaccines and other medical products. The first vaccines to get the provisional green light in the U.S. are almost certain to be made available under this process, known as emergency use authorization.

Instead of the usual requirement of “substantial evidence” of safety and effectiveness for approval, the FDA can allow products onto the market as long as their benefits are likely to outweigh their risks. It has already used its emergency powers to authorize hundreds of coronavirus tests and a handful of treatments during the pandemic.

But the agency has almost no experience granting emergency use for vaccines and has laid out extra standards it will use to make decisions on upcoming Covid-19 shots.

In October, FDA officials told vaccine makers they should have two months of safety follow-up from half of the people enrolled in their studies before requesting emergency authorization. That data is expected to be enough for FDA to allow vaccinations of certain high-risk groups, such as front-line health workers and nursing home residents.

Full approval of a vaccine will likely require six months of safety follow-up as well as extensive inspections of company manufacturing sites. The leading vaccine makers are not expected to complete that process until next spring or summer. Only then is the FDA expected to grant full approval, which would allow vaccinations of the general population.

1107d ago / 7:08 PM UTC

G20 leaders meet to discuss help for poorest nations in post-Covid world

BEIJING/DUBAI, Nov 21 — Leaders of the 20 biggest economies are debating this weekend how to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests around the world so that poorer countries are not left out as nations look for ways to manage a post-coronavirus recovery.

The leaders are holding a two-day virtual meeting via video-conference due to the pandemic, under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20 until the end of November.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which will throw the global economy into a deep recession this year before an economic rebound expected in 2021, is at the top of the agenda.

"We must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples," Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz said in his opening remarks.

G20 leaders are concerned that the pandemic might further deepen global divisions between the rich and the poor.

Click here for the full story. 

1107d ago / 4:57 PM UTC

U.S. surpasses more than 12 million Covid cases

The United States topped 12 million cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, as the third wave's uncontrolled spread prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to urge Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving.

The country recorded more than 200,000 coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 12,002,863, according to NBC News' tally. The total number of deaths is 255,567.

More than 40 states plus Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam are experiencing a percentage increase in cases from over the past 14 days. Of those, a dozen states are seeing a spike in new cases.

Click here to read more

1107d ago / 3:59 PM UTC

Xi says China ready to boost global vaccine cooperation

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that China is ready to step up global Covid-19 vaccine cooperation, and called for better international coordination on policies to facilitate movement of people.

Pharmaceutical companies and research centers around the world are working on potential Covid-19 vaccines, with large global trials of several of the candidates involving tens of thousands of participants underway. China has five home-grown candidates undergoing Phase III trials.

"China is willing to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the research and development, production, and distribution of vaccines," Xi told the G20 Riyadh Summit via video link.

"We will fulfill our commitments, offer help and support to other developing countries, and work hard to make vaccines a public good that citizens of all countries can use and can afford," he said.

He also called for stronger international policy coordination to establish travel "fast tracks" that would facilitate orderly global movement.

With that in mind, Xi said China would propose the creation of a mechanism by which travelers' coronavirus test results were recognized internationally through digital health codes.

1107d ago / 3:44 PM UTC

Trump hits golf course as Covid surges

As the coronavirus surges and new case records are broken daily, President Donald Trump is at his golf course for the third straight weekend at his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.

Trump, who has visited his club each weekend since the election, has not answered reporter's questions about the virus in weeks and he has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting since April or May and has no plans to attend any in the coming weeks, according to an administration official. 

1107d ago / 3:25 PM UTC

Chocolate Santas don marzipan masks in Hungary

Image: Chocolate Santas wearing protective face masks are seen in the workshop of the Hungarian confectioner Rimoczi in Lajosmizse
Chocolate Santas wearing protective face masks Hungarian confectioner Laszlo Rimoczi's workshop on Friday.BERNADETT SZABO / Reuters

Online orders have surged for confectioner Laszlo Rimoczi's chocolate Santas wearing marzipan masks, made in his small workshop in rural Hungary.

Rimoczi said he intended the sweet treats as a light-hearted joke to raise people's spirits, amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic. Now, he can hardly keep pace with demand.

He has had to simplify the design, to keep up with orders, and now produces about 100 Santas a day, using gluten-free Italian chocolate. He paints the hat red, and makes the masks from tiny white marzipan strips, adding the ribbons with icing.

1107d ago / 3:20 PM UTC

Putin says Russia ready to provide other countries with Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine

Russia's President Vladimir Putin told G20 leaders on Saturday that Russia was ready to provide its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries who need it.

Russia is also preparing its second and third vaccine, Putin said, adding that creation of vaccine portfolio was "our common goal."

1107d ago / 2:58 PM UTC

Donald Trump Jr.: 'Apparently I got the ‘Rona'

Donald Trump Jr. gave a casual assessment of his condition on social media Friday night in first comments since his Covid-19 diagnosis was reported. 

"Apparently I got the ‘Rona," he said in a video posted on Instagram, adding that he feels no symptoms, "so it's a little bit odd. Maybe it's a false positive, maybe not."

"But you know, I'll follow the protocols take a little bit more time, maybe get another couple tests. And hopefully I can test a couple times in a row negative before the holidays, just again, out of an abundance of precaution," he said.

Trump Jr., 42, was among the more than a hundred people who attended an election night party at the White House, where many were seen not wearing masks. He has also been traveling around the country as a campaign surrogate to defend his father's election loss in various states.

President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday morning, "My son Donald is doing very well. Thank you."

1107d ago / 2:12 PM UTC

U.S. sets another new single-day record: 196,100 cases

A record 196,100 in the United States were reported to have Covid-19 Friday, another record was set in a month marked by new records.

There were 1,904 reported dead due to the coronavirus, according to NBC News' count of state and county health department figures.

An average 1,419 have been reported dead per day this week, up from an average 801 deaths per day four weeks ago, an increase of 77 percent.

Ten states counted new single-day records Friday:

  • Delaware with a record 663 cases
  • Idaho with 1,786 cases
  • 53 reported deaths in Iowa
  • 84 dead in Kansas
  • 3,816 new cases in Kentucky
  • 4,743 in Louisiana
  • 43 dead in Nebraska
  • Ohio had 8,808 new cases
  • Utah reported 17 dead
  • Vermont tied its previous record high set the day before with 149 cases

Track all state-level Covid-19 surges.

1107d ago / 1:13 PM UTC

Iran shutters businesses and limits travel as cases spike

Iran on Saturday shuttered businesses and curtailed travel between its major cities including the capital, Tehran, as it grapples with the worst outbreak of the coronavirus in the Middle East.

Top Iranian officials initially downplayed the risks posed by the virus, before recently urging the public to wear masks and avoid unessential travel.

The country has recorded daily death tolls of above 430 over the past five days and the Iranian Health Ministry said on Saturday that the total number of confirmed cases has risen to above 840,000.

The new lockdown measures, which include shuttering most businesses, shops, malls, and restaurants, include Iran's largest cities of Mashhad, Isfahan, and Shiraz. 

1107d ago / 5:48 AM UTC

Some Americans are still traveling for Thanksgiving

1107d ago / 4:59 AM UTC

Wisconsin governor renews mask mandate despite court challenge

Wisconsin's governor on Friday extended a statewide mask mandate despite a legal challenge from conservatives, renewing an emergency health order requiring face coverings in public spaces to curb an alarming surge in COVID-19 infections.

The new decree from Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, came six months after a coronavirus stay-at-home order issued last spring was invalidated by the state Supreme Court in a lawsuit that Republican lawmakers brought against the lockdown.

The same court heard oral arguments on Monday in a similar lawsuit brought by a prominent Wisconsin conservative donor contesting Evers' authority to impose an earlier face-covering mandate, which is due to expire Saturday.

1107d ago / 3:46 AM UTC

Cuomo to get Emmy for virus briefings

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to soon receive an International Emmy award for his once-daily televised briefings on the coronavirus pandemic that killed tens of thousands of New Yorkers this spring.

The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, whose members include media and entertainment figures from over 60 countries and 500 companies, announced Friday it plans to present the award to the Democratic governor in a live-streamed show Monday.

International Academy President & CEO Bruce L. Paisner said Cuomo is being honored with the academy’s Founders Award for using his briefings to inform and calm the public. Previous recipients include former Vice President Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, and director Steven Spielberg.

“The governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure,” he said. “People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back.”