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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:

New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota among the states that set daily records Thursday

On a day the CDC warned those in the U.S. to not travel on Thanksgiving, six states have set new daily records for Covid-19 cases or deaths.

The states and the counts:

  • Kentucky with 3,637 cases
  • Maryland with 2,912 cases
  • 72 reported dead in Minnesota
  • 2,416 new cases in Nevada
  • 4,491 new cases in New Jersey
  • Vermont reported 149 new cases

Track the Covid-19 surges here.

Pfizer expected to submit vaccine for approval on Friday, distribution to begin hours after authorization

Pfizer could submit its vaccine for emergency approval as soon as Friday and distribution and injection will begin hours after federal regulators authorize it, officials said Thursday at the first White House coronavirus task force briefing in four months.

Gen. Gus Perna, a four star U.S. Army general and top official in the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, said that shipping will begin 24 hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues emergency use authorization for vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer.

Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the task force, said that injection of the vaccines will begin 24 hours after that.  

"We could be a matter of a few short weeks away for a vaccine being available," Pence said.

Operation Warp Speed expects to vaccinate 20 million Americans against coronavirus by the end of December, though they have not briefed President-elect Biden’s transition team on the effort and don’t plan to do so at this point, Trump administration officials told senators Thursday.

Pfizer is expected to apply for the authorization on Friday, according to Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Moderna is expected to file soon after that, he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that a panel of independent experts “who have no allegiance to anybody” had deemed data showing that the vaccines were highly effective “to be sound.”

That data will now be reviewed by an FDA advisory committee before the department issues the emergency authorization.

President Donald Trump, who has said little about a recent surge in coronavirus cases across the United States, did not appear at the briefing and officials did not take questions from reporters.

Parents upset after NYC schools close due to surge

Many New York City parents are outraged that all in-person instruction was abruptly halted at city schools, with many expressing their frustrations over the decision and having no time to prepare for it.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the shutdown Wednesday.

Leah Truell, a 34-year-old single mother in Staten Island, said she learned of the news after she left work. Her son, Preston, is part of the blended learning system — a mix of remote and in-person classes — and was supposed to go back to school at P.S. 45 John Tyler on Monday.

Truell, who works with Silver Lake Head Start, now has to quickly make arrangements for her son to switch to fully remote learning. She said she's hoping a friend will be able to step in and help.

"That’s not enough time. They don’t take into consideration single parents, those of us who don’t have any other option, no family, or anything like that," she said during a phone interview Thursday. "It’s a very stressful situation.”

Read the full story.

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.

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