This live coverage has ended. Continue reading coronavirus news from Nov. 21, 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Thursday that Americans not travel next week for Thanksgiving. The guidance comes as the nation has seen 1 million new cases in the last week.
The latest Covid-19 data and coverage:
Some Americans are still traveling for Thanksgiving
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.
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.”
More than 194,000 cases reported in the U.S. for new single-day record
The United States shattered another single-day record for new coronavirus cases on Friday with more than 194,000 Covid-19 infections confirmed and at least 1,880 deaths, according to NBC News counts.
The previous single-day record for new cases was reported on Thursday with 193,200 infections.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 11,972,950 confirmed cases and 255,218 deaths have been reported in the U.S.
The grim news comes as millions of Americans weigh canceling Thanksgiving Day celebrations or risk exacerbating an already deadly pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down this year.
Superspreader events are still happening
Pentagon imposes new restrictions on employees
The Department of Defense will impose new restrictions on the thousands of people who work at the Pentagon as Covid-19 cases continue to climb at the Pentagon's campus and throughout the greater Capital region.
The new guidelines will raise the health protection level from "Bravo" to "Bravo-plus" starting at 5 a.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Under the restrictions, only 40 percent of workspaces can be occupied with the remaining 60 percent of employees telecommuting until further notice. Face coverings will be mandatory for anyone coming within 6 feet of another person, and employees will be subject to random health screenings. All visitors already must undergo similar screenings before entering the property.
Inslee announces $135M in grants, loans, aid for businesses, workers
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday announced $135 million in grants, loans and other assistance to help businesses and workers hurt by new restrictions he imposed through mid-December in response to a rising number of coronavirus cases across the state.
At a news conference, Inslee said businesses would be able to apply for $70 million in grants, as well as $30 million in loans to help offset the business restrictions that took effect this week, including the closure of fitness facilities and gyms, bowling centers and movie theaters, and the requirement that restaurants and bars be limited to to-go service and outdoor dining.
The economic package also includes $20 million in rental assistance and $15 million in utility payment assistance for those with low income. All of the funding is part of federal coronavirus outbreak assistance funds distributed to states.
“We are in a very difficult situation, and we are acting to save people’s lives in the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “But we also need to act to help people’s economic prospects hurt by this pandemic.”
What scientists are paying attention to for vaccine safety
The first experimental coronavirus vaccines could be available by the end of the year, and while that’s welcome news for public health officials, surveys have shown that people’s trust in a Covid-19 vaccine remains on shaky ground.
A Gallup poll in November found that 58 percent of Americans say they would get a Covid-19 vaccine, up from a low of 50 percent in September. But there are still worries that the speed of developing and testing the vaccines may have compromised their scientific integrity.
In a White House Task Force briefing Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci tried to settle concerns about the safety of the first two vaccines for which early Phase 3 clinical trial results have been reported.
Fauci is confident of the process, but what are scientists paying attention to when it comes to vaccine safety?
Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for Covid-19
Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, has tested positive for coronavirus, a spokesman told NBC News on Friday.
“Don tested positive at the start of the week and has been quarantining out at his cabin since the result. He’s been completely asymptomatic so far and is following all medically recommended COVID-19 guidelines," the spokesman said.
Donald Trump Jr., 42, was among the more than a hundred people who attended his father's election night party at the White House and has been traveling as a campaign surrogate to defend his father's election loss in various states.
Since then, Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and other White House aides and members of Congress have also tested positive.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior Trump campaign official and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, tested positive for the coronavirus in July.
Ben Carson says he recovered from Covid-19 after Trump approved use of experimental antibody
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said Friday in a Facebook post that he and his wife have recovered from Covid-19 after he and his wife announced they tested positive earlier this month.
Carson, 69, said in the lengthy post that he "was extremely sick," started to feel better but soon became "desperately ill" after the symptoms accelerated.
"President Trump was following my condition and cleared me for the monoclonal antibody therapy that he had previously received, which I am convinced saved my life," he said. "President Trump, the fabulous White House medical team, and the phenomenal doctors at Walter Reed have been paying very close attention to my health and I do believe I am out of the woods at this point."
Carson, a retired physician, was among the more than a hundred people who attended Trump's election night party at the White House earlier this month. Since then, Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and other White House aides have also tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus.
3 more White House aides test positive for coronavirus
Three more White House staffers have tested for Covid-19 in recent days, NBC News has confirmed.
The most recent positive cases are three lower-level White House aides.
The aides are only the latest officials who work in the Trump White House or who were associated with the Trump campaign to test positive.
Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
Connecticut surpasses 100,000 Covid-19 cases
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says state's hospitals are overwhelmed
With Wisconsin’s hospitals near full capacity, Gov. Tony Evers declared a new public health emergency.
“Wisconsin’s hospitals are overwhelmed and facing staff shortages,” Evers said in a statement. “We continue to see record-setting days of Covid-19 cases in Wisconsin. We need everyone to stay home and wear a mask if you have to go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus.”
More than a third of the state’s hospitals are operating at peak capacity and cannot admit any new patients, the governor said.
Evers, who is a Democrat, has had his attempts to impose new restrictions repeatedly stymied by the Republicans who control the state legislature and have used conservative groups to tie the governor up in court.
Utah governor to end one-household-gathering rule before Thanksgiving
Outgoing Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday said he would reissue a statewide mask mandate that is set to expire but would not reissue a statewide ban on inter-household gatherings, just days before the Thanksgiving holiday.
As part of a state of emergency declared on Nov. 9 in response to surging Covid-19 rates in Utah, Herbert issued both a mask mandate and a ban on inter-household gatherings that lasted for two weeks.
Set to expire on Monday, Herbert said that the next iteration of the declaration would drop the one-household gathering rule.
"What you do in the confines of our own home is going to be up to you, but we also are giving strong recommendations of how you conduct that in a safe environment," Herbert said at his monthly news conference Thursday.
Pfizer has applied for emergency use for its Covid-19 vaccine
Pfizer submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration on Friday for an emergency use authorization for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine.
Early results from Pfizer's Phase 3 clinical trials have yielded promising news: Two shots, given three weeks apart, appeared to be 95 percent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are poised have 50 million doses available this year and 1.3 billion in 2021, using facilities both in the United States and Belgium.
Kentucky Gov. called state's surge a "fast-moving train" that's straining healthcare resources
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the number of new Covd-19 cases is going up so fast in his state they can’t keep up.
“It took us what, six, seven months to get to our first day of 1,000 cases,” the Democratic governor told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. “It took us about a month and a half later to get from 1,000 to 2,000. It took us a week to go from 2,000 to 3,000.”
As a result, Beshear said, “our need for health care workers is going up while our availability is going down, and we have to step in before we run out of health care capacity in Kentucky.”
“And when that happens, you know, the death compounds and I’m just not willing to let that happen,” he said.
Beshear said he has no choice but to double down on mask wearing and social distancing while imposing “surgical” restrictions to slow down the spread but disrupt daily life as little as possible.
“We’re dealing with fast-moving train that has devastating consequences for our families across Kentucky,” he said. “And before we can turn the train around, we got to slow it down and stop it and then we turn it around.”
Kentucky has recorded 148,389 coronavirus infections and 1,742 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest NBC News data.
S.D. governor's Thanksgiving message filled with misinformation, expert says
The governor of South Dakota has delivered a Thanksgiving message to her constituents that a public health expert is calling “dangerous” and rife with “misinformation.”
Gov. Kristi Noem, in a statement titled “Thanksgiving and Personal Responsibility,” ignored the alarms that Dr. Anthony Fauci and other expert epidemiologists have been sounding for weeks and said “we won't stop or discourage you from thanking God and spending time together this Thanksgiving.”
Noem, who has refused to order a mask mandate even though South Dakota currently has the second highest infection rates in the country (52.53 percent), urged residents to “exercise personal responsibility” and said “smaller gatherings may be smarter this year.”
In explaining why South Dakota has not followed the example of most other states and imposed restrictions as the number of new Covid-19 cases continues to skyrocket, the Republican governor also made the false statement that “there is no science to support the claim that lockdowns stop the spread of the virus” and the misleading assertion that “not even mask mandates have stopped cases from rising in communities.”
That, said Dr. Sadiya Khan, an epidemiologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, “is a dangerous statement from a person in a position of power and influence that is not based on scientific fact and ignores common sense.”
“This is misinformation,” Khan said.
Recent Covid restrictions by city and state
As the coronavirus pandemic surges across the country, states and cities imposed new measures to curb the spread of the virus.
- Mayor Bill de Blasio closed New York City public schools on Wednesday as the city reached a 3 percent positivity rate.
- In Philadelphia, officials announced new restrictions earlier in the week, banning indoor gatherings and prohibiting indoor dining. Indoor restaurants, gyms and museums were shuttered beginning Friday. The measures also restrict high school and colleges to holding virtual classes only.
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam put in place new restrictions on indoor dining on Monday, with bans on alcohol service at 10 p.m and restaurants closing by midnight. Entertainment venues are restricted to 30 percent capacity.
- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced restrictions on restaurants and bars, making them takeout only starting Friday. Minnesota also shuttered gyms and indoor entertainment venues.
- In Illinois, all bars and restaurants will close at 11 p.m. and eateries can only serve outdoors starting Friday. Health and fitness centers can only operate at 25 percent occupancy. All indoor gaming and entertainment venues will close.
- Last week, Oregon issued a statewide two-week lockdown as coronavirus cases rose in the state.
- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced a statewide mask mandate on Nov. 8. Businesses must require employees to wear masks and all Utah residents are required to wear them in public.
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom enacted a curfew on social gatherings starting Saturday night. From 10 p.m. until 5 am each day, stay at home orders will go into effect in 41 counties. The edict will expire on December 21.
- On Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a 10 p.m. - 5 a.m. curfew order that will expire in mid-December.
- Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced a statewide two-week “pause” on Thursday. The order will shutter bars, gyms, indoor sporting venues, and in-person colleges. Restrictions on crowds will be placed on high schools, indoor restaurants and places of worship from November 30 to December 13.
Rudy Giuliani's son Andrew, a White House staffer, tests positive
Rudy Giuliani's 34-year-old son, Andrew, said Friday, that he tested positive for Covid-19.
"This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. I am experiencing mild symptoms, and am following all appropriate protocols, including being in quarantine and conducting contact tracing," he tweeted.
Andrew Giuliani, who works in Trump's White House, attended the Republican National Committee press conference with his father and other lawyers who spoke Thursday, according to a Trump campaign official. The event lasted nearly two hours.
Toronto Raptors to start NBA season in Tampa
TORONTO — The Canadian government denied a request by the NBA and the Raptors to play in Toronto amid the pandemic, and the team says it will start the season next month in Tampa, Florida.
“Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida,” the team said in a statement Friday.
The Canadian government had been reviewing a proposal from the NBA and the Raptors. The team had said it needed to know this week with training camp less than two weeks away.
The Raptors and the NBA needed an exemption to a requirement that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must isolate for 14 days. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel.
The federal government denied the Blue Jays’ request to play in Toronto this year because health officials didn’t think it was safe for players to travel back and forth from the U.S., one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. The number of cases in both countries, but particularly in the U.S. has surged since.
Mexico is fourth country to top over 100,000 Covid deaths
MEXICO CITY — Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in confirmed COVID-19 deaths, becoming only the fourth country to do so amid concerns about the lingering physical and psychological scars on survivors.
José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, announced late Thursday that Mexico had 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, behind only the United States, Brazil and India.
Mexico’s number includes only test-confirmed deaths; the true toll is far higher. In late October, a government study of excess mortality found that a total of about 140,000 deaths this year were probably attributable to the new coronavirus, a number that has only grown since then.
NYC mayor warns that indoor dining, gyms could soon close
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the city could move into the "orange zone," which bans indoor dining, as soon as the week after Thanksgiving as cases of the coronavirus continue to surge.
The mayor warned of the move during a radio appearance on WNYC.
"The restrictions that are coming. I've been very overt in the fact that the governor said an orange zone is coming. By our own projections, based on the state data, that will happen soon after Thanksgiving, probably the first week of December," he said, according to WABC.
Under the orange zone, places such as gyms and salons will be closed and bars and restaurants will only be allowed to have outdoor dining and takeout. Indoor dining is prohibited. Nonessential indoor and outdoor dining must also be limited to no more than 10 people and violators face a fine up to $15,000 per day.
"I don't say that with anything but sorrow for the people who work in those places, the people who own those small businesses," the mayor said. "But that is what is going to happen."
Hospitalizations are at all-time high since start of pandemic
There are more people hospitalized with Covid-19 right now than “at any time since the pandemic began,” The Covid Tracking Project reported Friday.
Nearly 80,000 people infected with the virus are being treated in hospitals and the average number of hospitalizations eclipsed 72,000 in the seven day period ending Wednesday, the researchers reported.
That is a nearly 24 percent jump from the previous week and the highest average number seen since April 15, in the early days of the coronavirus crisis.
“This wave of cases arrives in a moment when many hospital systems across the country are already inundated with Covid-19 patients and are warning of staff shortages,” the researchers reported.
One million new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the United States during that seven day period.
“The record levels of hospitalizations we’re already seeing will almost certainly be followed by a spike in reported fatalities,” the researchers warned. And that’s “even if Americans follow new state lockdown measures and skip big Thanksgiving gatherings,” they said.
The 8,461 deaths reported during the seven-day period is the highest weekly death count since May, they said.
Hard-hit by Covid-19, Latinos bear mental health burden 8 months into pandemic
Ana Urbina is so afraid of contracting Covid-19 that she even worries about going outside to throw out the garbage. Staying home all the time means Urbina is watching more TV than usual — including the news, which then increases her anxiety.
“I am too stressed,” said Urbina, 60, a Miami resident who’s diabetic, disabled and immunocompromised. “The state of my health is becoming more complicated, and that stresses me.”
Urbina is among the roughly 40 percent of Latinos nationwide who reported experiencing frequent symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, according to an analysis from April 23 to Nov. 9 by the National Center for Health Statistics in partnership with the Census Bureau. The rate peaked in mid-July and at the beginning of November when nearly 50 percent of Latinos reported experiencing such symptoms.
Pelosi emphasizes need for Covid-19 relief package as pandemic worsens
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., emphasized Friday the need for another Covid-19 relief package as the pandemic continues to worsen and with the release of several vaccines on the horizon.
“We are in a full blown economic and health catastrophe and it's amazing to see the patience the GOP has for other people's suffering," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference, criticizing Republicans for the deadlock with Democrats.
"Let’s hope that it’s time for McConnell’s pause to end," she added, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying that she hopes talks about a larger government spending bill will create the impetus for Covid-19 negotiations.
Pelosi said Congress needs to approve funding for the vaccines that are soon going to become available. “It’s here, it’s imminent ... We should be having the resources to make sure the vaccine is distributed equitably so that everyone has access to it.”
Former FDA head: Pandemic 'will run its course' for 6-8 weeks before vaccine has impact
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottleib said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday morning that the coronavirus pandemic will "run its course" for six to eight weeks before any benefit from any vaccine candidate's early approval will be seen in the public health data.
Gottleib, a member of Pfizer's board of directors, said the pharmaceutical giant plans to file on Friday for an emergency use authorization [EUA] of its experimental vaccine. The EUA Pfizer seeks, Gottleib said, would allow distribution of the vaccine candidate prior to its full clinical approval.
He predicted that a vaccine's EUA wouldn’t begin to draw down coronavirus rates until next year, since the Pfizer vaccine has two doses that must be given three weeks apart, and full immunity is not established until shortly after the second dose.
If an EUA for Pfizer's vaccine were to be issued in mid-December and the most at-risk got their first shots then, Gottleib said, they would not be immune until after their second shot in mid-January.
For the rest of the population, Gottleib said he expected that the vaccine's emergency use authorization would be amended throughout 2021 to gradually expand eligibility, which he predicted would be available to the general population in the second or third quarter of next year.
Practical hurdles, cultural distrust in Native communities could hamper vaccine distribution
When Timothy Nuvangyaoma, chairman of the Hopi Tribe, heard there were two coronavirus vaccines that both showed promising data of more than 90 percent efficacy, he felt initial relief that soon transitioned to cautious skepticism.
That’s because the logistic and cultural challenges of delivering a Covid-19 vaccine with precise temperature requirements and two-dose administration to members of the Hopi Tribe are vast: Hopi often live in remote locations and only one-third of the population has reliable means of transportation, according to officials with knowledge of vaccine distribution planning. Hopi lands span more than 1.5 million acres and encompass parts of both Coconino and Navajo counties in northeastern Arizona.
There is a long-simmering cultural mistrust of vaccines and clinical trials felt by tribal communities as a result of historical trauma, making their skepticism about the safety of vaccines more pronounced.
“There’s always that reluctance as a Native American,” Nuvangyaoma said. “I have to make sure that it’s going to be able to help. And I don’t want to get people’s hopes up.”
3 New York Giants football players sidelined by positive tests
The Giants did not immediately identify the players, but the team said they were "immediately notified to self-isolate, and the contact tracing process is underway."
The team does not have a game this weekend and will be back in action a week from Sunday, traveling to play the Cincinnati Bengals.
A drastic six-day lockdown in South Australia was triggered by an individual who lied to contact tracers, according to South Australia State Premier Steven Marshall.
"To say that I am fuming about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement," Marshall said.
He went on to say that they are still trying to locate thousands of people who may have had contact at the Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott tests positive for Covid
Stanford faculty pass resolution condemning Scott Atlas
Stanford faculty passed a resolution Thursday night condemning Dr. Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump’s top medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution, introduced by members of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee and approved by 85 percent of the senate membership, specified six actions that Atlas has taken that “promote a view of Covid-19 that contradicts medical science.”
"Atlas’s disdain for established medical knowledge violates medical ethics," they write. "His pronouncements are damaging Stanford’s reputation and academic standing."
Atlas posted on Twitter on Sunday that Michigan residents should "rise up" after the governor issued new restrictions. He earlier tweeted false information about wearing masks.
After contacts get Covid, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller won't isolate
Two people tested positive for coronavirus after having close contact with acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, who will not go into self-isolation as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.
Anthony Tata, the undersecretary of defense for policy, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday and twice since, chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
Tata was tested because the Lithuanian Embassy informed the Pentagon that its defense minister, Raimundas Karoblis, had tested positive for Covid-19.
Karoblis visited the Pentagon over several days in the last week, where he met with Miller, Tata and Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite.
Miller and the others won't isolate themselves, the Pentagon spokesperson said:
"As CDC COVID mitigation guidelines were followed during the Acting Secretary’s bilateral meeting with the minister, as well as meetings with Mr. Tata, Acting Secretary of Defense Miller is not quarantining," the Pentagon said.
U.S. crosses 190,000 new daily Covid-19 cases
More than 193,000 people reported new Covid-19 infections in the U.S. Thursday, a new record. County and state health departments across the country reported 1,945 deaths.
According to NBC News' tally, case counts have exceeded 100,000 for more than two weeks now. In the last week, an average 165,665 cases have been confirmed per day, up more than double from the average 80,669 cases per day the U.S. was averaging four weeks ago.
Several records were set Thursday on the state level:
- Iowa reported 39 Covid-19 deaths, tying its record set the day before.
- Kentucky reported 3,637 cases
- Maryland had 2,912 cases
- 72 reported dead in Minnesota
- 28 deaths in Nebraska
- 2,416 cases in Nevada
- 528 cases in New Hampshire
- 4,491 new cases in New Jersey
- 3,665 cases in New Mexico
- Oregon reported 20 dead
- Vermont reported 149 new cases
- Wyoming reported 21 deaths