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Nov. 19 Coronavirus updates: Latest pandemic news and information

November 19 news about the coronavirus pandemic. The death rate surges in the U.S. as advancements in testing and potential vaccines await approval by the FDA.
Image: COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit Within A Houston Hospital Cares For Patients As Cases Continue To Rise
A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from coronavirus in the Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at United Memorial Medical Center on Nov. 16, 2020 in Houston.Go Nakamura / Getty Images

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading the latest Covid-19 news here.

The latest Covid-19 data and coverage:

Mask mandates work against Covid spread. CDC offers evidence

Government mandates that require people to wear masks in public can slow the spread of Covid-19, according to a new report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Communities that don't enact such orders may face dramatic increases in new cases.

The report explored the striking differences among counties in Kansas during the summer: Some adopted mask mandates, while others did not.

Click here to read the full story

Smithsonian museums, National Zoo closing again

Those hoping to visit the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and other Smithsonian facilities during the holidays could be out of luck as the Covid-19 pandemic will close them starting Monday.

The Smithsonian Institute in a statement Thursday cited the rising number of cases in the D.C. region and across the country. No reopening date was announced due to the changing nature of the situation.

"The Institution's top priority is to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff," it said.

The Smithsonian Institute closed the zoo and museums in March, so Monday's closing affects the zoo and seven other facilities that had reopened with new procedures in place. 

Covid-19 cases have been rising all over the country, breaking daily records, prompting some governments to announce curfews or other restrictions, and leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to urge people to not travel for Thanksgiving. More than 253,000 people in the U.S. have died.

Senior Pentagon official tests positive after meeting with Lithuania's defense minister

A senior Pentagon official tested positive for coronavirus after a meeting last week with Lithuania’s defense minister, who has also tested positive for the virus, the Defense Department said Thursday.

The U.S. official to test positive is Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who is performing the duties of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, the Pentagon said. Tata, who tested positive on two successive tests, will quarantine for two weeks, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Other top U.S. officials who met the Lithuanian minister, Raimundas Karoblis, on Nov. 13 and Nov. 16 include Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller and the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The Pentagon said it is testing department personnel who had contact with Tata and Karoblis. The statement does not say if Miller has been tested, though it says he will not self-isolate because protocols developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were followed during their bilateral meeting.

The military leaders will also not self-isolate “based on testing and mitigation measures that were in place,” the statement says.

Maddow: Don't get this thing. Do whatever you can to keep from getting it.

Remdesivir shouldn't be used on hospitalized Covid-19 patients, WHO advises

The antiviral remdesivir should not be used as treatment for hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the World Health Organization said Thursday, only a month after the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug to treat patients over age 12 who are hospitalized with Covid-19.

Remdesivir, also known as Veklury, and the steroid dexamethasone are the only drugs authorized to treat Covid-19 patients. But a recent massive global study of remdesivir's effectiveness, run by the WHO, showed that remdesivir had little or no impact on hospitalized patients, contradicting previous trials.

"Remdesivir has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes for patients, such as the need for mechanical ventilation or time to clinical improvement," experts from the WHO Guideline Development Group wrote in a statement. The review was published in The BMJ, a medical journal.

Read the full story. 

White House coronavirus task force briefing ends without Q&A

Dozens of U.S. Air Force nurses dispatched to North Dakota

Dozens of U.S. Air Force nurses are being dispatched to North Dakota as the coronavirus continues to surge across the state and hospitals face dire shortages of medical workers.

In a statement, the office of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said that 60 medical personnel — most of them nurses — will be deployed Saturday to at least six hospitals in four cities: Grand Forks, Fargo, Minot and Bismark. The deployment comes after federal officials granted a request for assistance from Burgum.

“With hospitals projecting a surge in COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, we’re deeply grateful to the Department of Defense and FEMA for granting our request for additional resources to help save lives and alleviate the immense pressure on North Dakota’s hospitals and long-term care facilities,” Burgum said.

The state has seen a steep rise in cases since last month, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Roughly eight percent of the state’s population has tested positive for the virus, the tally shows. Nearly 800 people have died.

North Dakota has been so short-staffed on medical workers that last week Burgum announced that personnel who have tested positive for the disease can continue working in coronavirus units, a move criticized by local nurses.

“Nurses are saying: ‘If we get positive at this point, we want to take the break. It’s a welcome break," the head of the state’s nursing association, Tessa Johnson, told NBC News. "We’re exhausted, we’re overworked, we need the rest. So, how can I get positive and come down with this disease and I still continue going at my best?’”

Mexico becomes fourth country with 100,000 Covid deaths

MEXICO CITY — Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, announced that Mexico had 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

But the living will bear the scars too: along with their lost friends and loved ones, many surviving coronavirus victims in Mexico say the psychosis caused by the pandemic is one of the most lasting effects.

Mexico resembles a divided country, where some people are so unconcerned they won’t wear masks, while others are so scared they descend into abject terror at the first sign of shortness of breath.

Photo: Video call prayer with Covid-19 patient in hospital

Chaplain Kevin Deegan prays for Covid-19 patient Pedro Basulto while on a video call with the patient's daughter, Grace, at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Thursday. "These video calls have been a lifeline for families," said Deegan. "It can be emotionally exhausting and very draining, but it also an honor to be a bridge for the family."Jae C. Hong / AP