IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

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:

California announces limited stay-at-home order

Amid an alarming increase in Covid-19 cases across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom's office announced a limited stay-at-home order that will go into effect Saturday night.

The order requires all non-essential work, movement and gatherings to stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the counties hardest hit by the pandemic, including Los Angeles County. 

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said Thursday in a statement. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”

He did not say how the order would be enforced. The directive does not prevent people from the same household from leaving their residence as long as they don't interact with people from outside their home. In other words, they can still walk their dog during those hours.

It comes as California's largest and most populous county, Los Angeles, reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the most the county has seen on any single day since the pandemic started. L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis also announced 1,238 new Covid-related hospitalizations.

Statewide, more than 1 million coronavirus cases and 18,469 deaths have been confirmed as of Thursday, according to NBC News counts.

Archdiocese of New York sues N.Y.C.’s Department of Education for failing to provide required Covid testing

The Archdiocese of New York and several parents are suing the New York City’s Department of Education claiming it has failed to provide Covid-19 testing  to parochial students as required by state law.

And the testing the DOE has provided thus far has been “inferior,” the lawsuit states. 

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the state Supreme Court on Staten Island, a New York City borough that has been contending with some of worst Covid-19 outbreaks in recent months.

Pac-12 allows schools to go out of league to fill Covid-canceled football games

Pacific-12 Conference schools will now be allowed to fill open football dates, if their opponent has to back out due to coronavirus protocols, the league announced on Thursday.

Five games of the Pac-12's young, truncated season have already been called off over Covid-19 issues, and the league had earlier decreed that no non-conferences contests were going to be played in 2020.

UCLA Bruins running back Demetric Felton (10) runs for a first down against California Golden Bears safety Daniel Scott (32) in the first half of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Nov 15, 2020.Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

But the Pac-12 changed course, now saying that a league school that suddenly has an open date - and is in compliance with Covid-19 protocols - may schedule a home non-conference game to fill an opening.  

It's not clear how likely any Pac-12 team will be able to take advantage of this scheduling allowance and find a non-league partner that's free on that weekend and willing to travel on short notice.

N.Y.C. mayor's reason for closing public schools was 'arbitrary,' adviser says

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio insists he relied on science when he closed public schools after the Covid-19 test positivity rate hit 3 percent, but one of his advisers told NBC News on Thursday that this was an “arbitrary” figure.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University and one of the mayor’s informal emergency response advisers, said he was indirectly involved in the talks over the summer between the city and the powerful teachers union on reopening the schools when that number was agreed upon.

“They were very concerned about reopening the schools and endangering teachers and school staffers and I don’t blame them,” according to Redlener, who said he had access to the discussions, meetings and senior members of the de Blasio administration while negotiations were taking place.

Click here to read the full story.

Ohio reaches “critical hospitalization levels,” governor says

Ohio has reached “critical hospitalization levels,” the governor’s office said in a Thursday statement. 

There are currently 3,829 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Ohio, 943 of whom are in the ICU, Gov. Mike DeWine’s said. 

Positive cases have increased nearly 300 percent over the past month. Ohio has already recorded 326,615 cases, and seen more than 5,890 deaths.

“Almost all counties are seeing more cases and more healthcare use that could threaten the medical system if they continue," DeWine said.

First federal execution of a woman in decades halted after lawyers diagnosed with Covid

A federal court delayed the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the first woman to face the federal death penalty in decades, on Thursday because her attorneys caught Covid-19 and couldn't prepare her clemency application.

The court order, signed by U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss, blocks the federal government from executing Montgomery before the end of the year. That will give her lawyers — Amy Harwell and Kelley Henry — time to prepare a petition to president for a commuted sentence.

Click here to read the full story.

Biden urged to pick person of color for top health job amid pandemic's toll on minority groups

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is being pushed to name a person of color as his Health and Human Services secretary, a move supporters say is designed to acknowledge the need to address the disproportionate burden the pandemic has placed on minority communities.

Among the nominees allies have been advocating for are Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Latina governor of New Mexico, a former member of Congress also served as the state’s secretary of health; California Rep. Raul Ruiz, a Latino physician and former emergency room doctor; and Rep. Karen Bass, a Black California congresswoman and former physician assistant, according to four people familiar with the discussions who spoke on background to detail private deliberations.

Another top contender is rumored to be Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general whose family immigrated from India and has been a top Biden adviser, said a person advising the transition.

Click here to read the full story.

More than 119,000 Americans have died since last White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing 4 months ago

The White House will be holding a Coronavirus Task Force briefing Thursday -- it's first in four months. In that time, more than 119,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus.

A White House official confirmed to NBC News that the last one took place July 8 at the Department of Education. There have been other briefings and news conferences since then that have included members of the task force.

Atlas on the outs with coronavirus task force but still pushing Trump's pandemic claims

President Donald Trump’s top medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Scott Atlas, has not attended White House task force meetings in person since late September, according to two administration officials, as he continues to spread misinformation about the worsening health crisis.

The growing split came after the group’s leading medical experts — Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci — indicated that they did not appreciate Atlas’ controversial input or contributions in the Situation Room gatherings.

“That was done in deference to Fauci and Birx because they basically said they will not work with him,” a senior administration official said about the adviser's absence at the meetings.

Click here to read the full story.

'It's not enough': Health experts say Iowa governor's new Covid order is 'weak'

Over the past few weeks, Dana Jones has grown increasingly alarmed at how Iowans are handling Covid-19, with hospitals running out of intensive care unit beds and the state surpassing a 45 percent positivity rate.

So, Jones, a nurse in Iowa City, initially felt relieved to hear Monday that Gov. Kim Reynolds would sign a proclamation that included a statewide mask mandate — but then she read it.

The proclamation only requires face coverings in public when someone is within 6 feet of other people for 15 minutes or more, and there are a number of exceptions. Bars and restaurants can stay open, but have to close by 10 p.m., and masks are not required for people exercising in gyms.

“It’s not enough,” said Jones, 39. 

Click here to read the full story.

Rhode Island gov. orders 2-week 'pause'

Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo announced on Thursday a two-week "pause" in the state to combat rising coronavirus rates.

The pause will shutter some businesses and leave others open, and will run from November 30 to December 13, Raimondo said, according to NBC affiliate WJAR.

In-person colleges, universities, bars, recreational areas and indoor sporting and gymnasium venues are to be closed while crowding restrictions will reduce capacity at high schools, indoor dining, retail and places of worship.

Notably, K-8 in-person education and childcare remain fully open during the Ocean State's two-week pause.