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Nov. 23 Coronavirus updates: Positive cases spread in sports, Ohio reports 11,000 new cases

November 23 news about the coronavirus pandemic. Ohio reported 11,000 more cases as multiple members of the Baltimore Ravens tested positive.
Image: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brazil
Medical workers take care of a patient at the intensive care unit in a hospital in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on Nov. 19. Diego Vara / Reuters

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Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday late-stage trials of its Covid-19 vaccine, developed in conjunction with U.K.'s University of Oxford, have shown it to be “highly effective.”

The results are the third promising vaccine breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus. Earlier this month, Pfizer and Moderna reported preliminary results from late-stage trials, showing that their vaccine candidates were almost 95 percent effective.

The latest Covid-19 data and coverage:

U.S. cases could nearly double to 20 million by Inauguration Day, WashU model predicts

Covid-19 cases in the U.S. could hit 20 million by Inauguration Day, according to a modeling forecast from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports.

The increase would represent a near-doubling of current U.S. case totals, which stand at more than 12 million.

The model takes into account the current level of social distancing in the country, which the researchers describe as a 60 percent return to normal; if Americans were to completely return to normal, it predicts that cases would reach 25 million by late January. 

"Even small increases in social distancing can have a large effect on the number of cases we observe in the next two and a half months,” study co-author Raphael Thomadsen said in a statement. “Going back to a 50 percent return to normalcy, which was the average level of distancing in early August, would likely result in 5 million fewer cases by the end of January."

Meatpacking plants linked to 6-8 percent of U.S. Covid-19 cases, study finds

Between 6-8 percent of U.S. Covid-19 cases and 3-4 percent of deaths through late July are tied to countywide outbreaks at meatpacking plants, according to a new study.

The study, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, found a "strong positive relationship between livestock-processing plants and local community transmission" of the virus. This suggests the plants "may act as transmission vectors" that accelerate the spread of the virus.

A higher number of infections were found in counties where large facilities had been allowed to speed up processing lines, according to the study.

The findings come after meatpacking food giant Tyson Foods lobbied to secure a government waiver to increase production speeds even as dozens of workers came down with the virus. 

The study's authors said that the negative public health impacts of these facilities may be attributed to operating practices and labor conditions. They add that addressing these risk factors "could not only strengthen the U.S. food system in the face of Covid-19 and future disruptions, but also help illuminate analogous weak points in other industries and supply chains."

Reggaeton star Bad Bunny tests positive for coronavirus

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his representative said Monday.

The announcement came a day after the musician won favorite male Latin artist and favorite Latin album for “YHLQMDLG” at the American Music Awards.

Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martínez Ocasio, was scheduled to sing his hit, “Dákiti,” with Jhay Cortez at the event but canceled without explanation, leaving many fans disappointed. The singer, however, presented the award for favorite Latin female artist remotely.

Publicist Sujeylee Solá told The Associated Press that Bad Bunny wasn’t showing any major symptoms as of Monday. She did not provide further details, saying only that the musician was not granting any interviews.

U.S. Air Force nurses deploy to North Dakota

U.S. Air Force medical personnel deployed to North Dakota over the weekend amid an uptick in new cases of Covid-19.

The personnel, made up primarily of nurses, will be sent to civilian hospitals across the state to support the fight against the virus.

North Dakota has seen more than 72,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and some 846 people there have died of complications from the virus, according to NBC News' running tally.

Between the period of Nov. 9 and Nov. 22, the state saw roughly 18,379 new cases, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

British PM Boris Johnson says England lockdown will end Dec. 2

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that England’s lockdown will end on Dec. 2 and people will be able to leave their homes for any reason.

England’s residents will be able to meet up in groups of six outside and collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, Johnson said. Shops, gyms and the leisure sector will also be allowed to reopen. 

England’s regions will however return to a tougher tiered system than before the November lockdown, with restrictions in each tier depending on how prevalent the coronavirus is in that area, he said. 

“We must get through winter without the virus spreading out of control and squandering our hard-won gains,” he said. “Our winter plan is designed to carry us safely to spring.”

Johnson did not say what the rules would be over the Christmas holiday period but said he was working on a special time-limited Christmas dispensation across the whole of the United Kingdom.  

"I can't say Christmas will be normal this year," he said. 

Mexico reports jump of over 9,000 new cases in one day

MEXICO CITY - Mexico’s health ministry reported 9,187 additional cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, only the third time it has recorded more than 9,000 new infections in a single day.

The total number of cases rose to 1,041,875, while 303 more deaths brought the toll to 101,676.

Mexico broke records in October with a daily jump of 28,115 cases, a figure officials said incorporated cases dating back months due to a new methodology.

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'Holiday celebrations can be superspreader events,' warns U.S. Surgeon General

United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is pleading with the public to "keep Thanksgiving small and smart," warning that indoor gatherings could result in a proliferation of coronavirus cases — including at the White House.

"I want the American people to know we're at a dire point in our fight with this virus by any measure. Cases, positivity, hospitalizations, deaths — we're seeing more Americans negatively impacted," Adams said Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "We're going to have vulnerable people start to be vaccinated in mere weeks. I'm asking Americans, begging you, hold on just a little longer."

When asked about reports that the White House plans to hold indoor holiday celebrations next month, going against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, Adams responded, "We want everyone to understand that these holiday celebrations can be superspreader events. We want them to be smart and as small as possible."

He refused to specifically address the White House's plans, but encouraged everyone to review tips for holding a safe holiday gathering on the CDC's website.

"They apply to the White House, the American people, everyone," Adams said. 

 

Case surge forces Sweden to rethink strategy praised by U.S. conservatives

STOCKHOLM — Sweden once found cheerleaders among conservative commentators and activists in the United States for its light-touch approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

But as the numbers of deaths and infections surge, Sweden's government has been forced to introduce much tougher regulations to prevent the virus from spreading.

Beginning Tuesday, the number of people who can gather in public will be reduced from 50 to eight. Only eight diners per table will be allowed in restaurants.

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