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Nov. 24 Covid news: Vaccines seek approval; States extend restrictions and mask mandates

Nov. 24 Covid updates about vaccines, travel restrictions and mask mandates. States restrictions for safety and travel extend as U.S. coronavirus cases rise.
Health workers and relatives carry the body of a Covid-19 victim for cremation in New Delhi on Nov. 19, 2020.Manish Swarup / AP

Live coverage on this has ended, please click here for NBC News' latest coverage of Covid-19.

Travelers wear face coverings amid rush to see family for Thanksgiving

NBC News

Image: Travelers wearing protective face masks and face shields to prevent the spread of Covid-19 hug at the airport in Denver, on Tuesday.
Travelers wearing protective face masks and face shields to prevent the spread of Covid-19 hug at the airport in Denver, on Tuesday.Kevin Mohatt / Reuters

Live entertainment starting to return to Atlantic City casinos

The Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City’s casinos are slowly resuming live entertainment, bringing back a staple of the casino experience as they comply with government-mandated restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Hard Rock on Tuesday announced a series of Motown-themed Christmas shows from Dec. 11-30, saying its customers are getting antsy with months of coronavirus restrictions.

“Public demand is looking for activities, especially with outdoor temperatures keeping everyone inside,” said Hard Rock president Joe Lupo. “The large showrooms, with better air circulation and spacious seating, and less than 10 percent of normal (occupancy) can provide that safe and fun night out.”

Tickets will be sold as individual tables of two and four seats to ensure social distancing.

Tennessee won't require vaccines for its students

The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s governor says that once coronavirus vaccines become available, they will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools.

Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the pandemic. But he says he doesn’t foresee vaccine mandates for school districts in Tennessee.

In his words, “Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine.”

The state’s health commissioner says the first doses could arrive in Tennessee around Dec. 15. The first wave will be reserved for frontline health care workers and first responders. She says widespread availability would likely be in late spring or early summer.

Cleveland customer surprises restaurant with $3,000 before closure

Ohio restaurant owner Brendan Ring was surprised when a patron left a $3,000 tip on a single beer Sunday.

He said that he and all the waitstaff were "humbly grateful for this incredibly kind and grand gesture,” in a post on Facebook. 

The Cleveland restaurant, which has been open since 1965, decided to voluntarily close as Covid-19 cases surge in Ohio. It hopes to reopen in the spring. 

As the restaurant was hosting its final brunch service before the closure, a patron came in for a Stella beer and asked for the bill, which came to $7.02 with tax. 

“As he walked out I looked down at the tip and realized he left a whopping $3000 tip on a single beer purchase,” Ring says.

In a post on Twitter, Belgian beer company Stella Artois is honoring the tipper’s kindness by paying it forward. 

“Supporting restaurants with a Stella in hand…We’ll raise a chalice to that!” the company wrote, announcing that they will be giving $6,000 to one winner through its unsung hero giveaway.

Tokyo governor: Japan can host Olympics despite virus spike

The Associated Press

TOKYO — Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike remains firm about safely hosting the Olympics in July.

Japan has experienced an uptick in infections this month, with a nationwide daily total exceeding 2,000 as the government tries to balance preventive measures and business activity.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach spent four days in Tokyo last week trying to assure the public and sponsors the Olympics will take place on July 23.

Koike credits widespread use of masks for Japan’s lower infections compared to the United States and Europe. Tokyo topped 500 cases last week. It reported 186 new cases on Tuesday for a total of nearly 38,200.

The health ministry says Japan has 135,000 total cases and nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths. The U.S. has 12.4 million cases and more than 258,000 deaths. Britain leads Europe with 1.5 million cases and 56,000 confirmed deaths.

Airports packed with Thanksgiving travelers as cases surge

ICU doctor recreates dying patient's view of intubation to urge people to take Covid seriously

An ICU doctor provided a first-person view of what Covid-19 patients see as they are being intubated in a video posted to Twitter, an attempt to encourage the public to adhere to safety guidelines.

The video shows Kenneth Remy, a critical care physician, fully dressed in personal protective equipment, looking down into the camera while holding a laryngoscope and an endotracheal tube — tools used in the intubation process.

“This is what it looks like when you breathe 40 times a minute, have an oxygen level that's dipping well below 80. This is what it's going to look like,” Remy can be heard saying. “This is what you'll see at the end of your life if we don't start wearing masks when we are out in public. When we don't practice social distancing. When we don't wash our hands frequently.”

The doctor said that he was inspired to make the video after having to call the families of 11 patients who died in the last week. Remy works for BJC HealthCare, a health care system based in Missouri, where there have been more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases reported per day in the last week.

Without changes, Colorado's deaths could more than double by end of year

Colorado could see the number of Covid-19 deaths more than double by the end of the year if nothing changes with the measures people take to prevent transmission of the virus, the state epidemiologist warned Tuesday.

Colorado has recorded about 2,800 deaths, and if its current transmission control rate stays around 65 percent, that number could reach 6,600 deaths by the end of the year, Rachel Herlihy said at a news conference.

The transmission control rate seeks to measure the impact on steps like mask wearing, social distancing and other factors. She said that if Coloradans help reduce the spread thousands of lives could be saved.

There has been a "steep increase" in Covid-19 cases, she said, and Thanksgiving could result in a spike in cases. If current trends continue, the state is projected to reach intensive care beds capacity in mid-January.

El Paso announces curfew for holiday weekend as county needs 13 mobile morgues

An El Paso, Texas, official issued a new curfew targeted at the Thanksgiving weekend to try and mitigate the deepening coronavirus crisis in the area.

County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced the new partial curfew on Tuesday, which will begin Wednesday and last until Nov. 30. The curfew will be enforced from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and only affect social activities.

Residents are strongly encouraged to shelter in place and no more than 10 people may gather in public or private. Samaniego specifically cited the need to limit gatherings on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Samaniego said El Paso County reported 1,257 Covid-19 cases and 15 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the county's total to 82,809 cases and 877 deaths. He said nearly 40,000 people in the community were actively carrying the coronavirus.

The move comes as 1,500 medical personnel have been sent to El Paso County to deal with the surge and 13 mobile morgues have been deployed to handle the mounting death toll.

Dozens of Air Force nurses arrive in North Dakota as Covid surges

Zoom lifting 40-minute call limit on Thanksgiving as CDC warns against holiday travel

Zoom announced it will be lifting its 40-minute call limit for Thanksgiving, allowing for unlimited call lengths as health officials warn against in-person gatherings for the holiday. 

“We here at Zoom believe it is important to pause, give thanks, and recognize who and what we are grateful for. This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for Zoomers, our amazing customers that have inspired and delighted us in 2020,” the video conferencing service wrote in an email to customers. 

The announcement comes as the U.S. is seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Experts believe holiday gatherings will lead to further spread of the coronavirus. The CDC has advised Americans not to travel and to only celebrate the holiday with the members of their immediate household.

Massachusetts preparing to reopen field hospital to treat Covid patients

Stefan Sykes

Los Angeles asks travelers arriving from out-of-state to sign waiver

California's most populous county will ask travelers arriving from out of state or country to Los Angeles International Airport to sign a waiver acknowledging California's 14-day quarantine advisory

The waiver program, which will begin Wednesday, also applies to train passengers arriving at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valley.

The travel advisory was issued earlier this month by Gov. Gavin Newsom ahead of Thanksgiving Day travel, which is already showing signs of being busier than public health officials had hoped amid surging Covid-19 infections.

The advisory asks anyone returning to California from out-of-state or country travel to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. Failure to submit the waiver is punishable by a fine up to $500, officials said.

70-year-old nurse who came out of retirement to teach nursing dies of Covid-19

Stefan Sykes

Iris Meda retired in January excited to start her new life. After a 35-year-long-career as a devoted registered nurse, Iris had planned on spending more time with her grandkids, catching up with her siblings, and joining her local senior center.

In August, she took a job teaching in-person nursing classes to college students, and some dual-credit high school students, at Collin College in a suburb northeast of Dallas. Teaching future frontline workers amid the pandemic was Iris's way of giving back, her daughter Selene Meda-Schlamel said.

In early October, Iris came into close contact with a student sick with Covid-19, according to an email from the school obtained by Inside Higher Ed. Days later, she tested positive for the virus herself and began experiencing symptoms.

On Oct. 17, she was hospitalized and, despite receiving antibody transfusions and the drug remdesivir, she was intubated as her condition worsened, Meda-Schlamel said. On Nov. 14, nearly a month later, she died of coronavirus complications.

“She was doing what she loved,” Meda-Schlamel told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “Despite the risks, she was living life to the fullest. On her own terms at the time. Trying to prepare future nurses for this country.”

Click here to read the full story. 

CDC to shorten length of quarantine for those exposed to Covid-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finalizing plans to shorten the recommended length of quarantine for those exposed to Covid-19.

The CDC currently recommends that individuals quarantine for 14 days after being exposed to people with the coronavirus. The two-week length is based on how long scientists believe it can take the virus to incubate in the body.

"CDC is always reviewing its guidance and recommendations in the light of new understandings of the virus that causes Covid-19, and will announce such changes when appropriate," a spokesperson for the agency told NBC News Tuesday. The updated approach will likely incorporate testing.

CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said during an October briefing that the agency was considering shortening the length of quarantine by up to a week.

Click here to read the full story. 

With Broadway dark due to pandemic, TikTok creates viral 'Ratatouille' musical

One evening in August, Emily Jacobsen was cleaning her apartment when she began to think of an article she had just read about a new Disney World ride based on the 2007 Pixar film “Ratatouille.”

Jacobsen, 26, of Hartsdale, New York, said she sometimes makes up little songs about Disney characters as a hobby, and, as she tidied, lyrics began to come to her.

She recorded the song, adding effects to her voice to make it more cartoonish and adding images of Remy, an animated rat, with flashy lighting effects. Then Jacobsen uploaded the clip to TikTok.

The silly lyrics, combined with the pitched-up vocals and visual effects, created the perfect recipe to capture Gen Z’s humor and catapult the video to viral status. The song also unexpectedly gave way to a trend that has given theater lovers a creative outlet to cope with the loss of Broadway amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to read the full story. 

Married teachers in Georgia both get Covid-19, husband now on life support

Husband and wife teachers in Georgia both contracted the coronavirus — and one of them is now on life support, according to NBC affiliate WXIA.

Priscella Key and Patrick Key both teach in Cobb County public schools and tested positive a week ago. Priscella Key told WXIA that she is recovering at home, but Patrick Key, 52, is on a ventilator in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Marietta, Georgia.

Key said that while her husband's condition is stable, he is being sedated and is "far from out of the woods."

She says the staff in the ICU has been helping them stay in contact on the occasions he's awake by using video calls, and he's been communicating with sign language and finger spelling.

Click here to read the full story. 

Thanksgiving rush could strain testing resources at 'dangerous' time

Americans flocking to get tested for Covid-19 ahead of Thanksgiving travel are straining resources at a time when infections are surging across much of the country, according to Dr. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Giroir emphasized the CDC’s guidance recommending that Americans avoid traveling for the holidays, adding that “a negative test today does not mean you will be negative tomorrow or a few days afterward.” He also expressed worry about the increased demand for coronavirus tests ahead of the Thanksgiving break, and whether it could lead to testing shortages and lagging turnaround times.

“Even though we have 50 million, or upwards of 40 to 50 million [tests] per month, we don’t have 150 million or 200 million per month,” Giroir said Tuesday in a call with reporters. “We’re not at a point where every American can test themselves every day without a reason to do that.”

Giroir said people can get a false sense of security from testing negative before a trip, and stressed that Americans need to “double down” on public health measures like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding unnecessary travel and exercising good hygiene — particularly in the weeks and months before a vaccine is widely available.

“The end of the pandemic is in sight,” he said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. That being said, we remain in a crucial and very dangerous time.”  

Louisiana reverses some reopening measures amid Covid surge

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state would be pulling back some of its reopening measures to try to stem the recent surge of Covid-19 cases.

Louisiana will enter a modified version of Phase 2 starting on Wednesday, which will close indoor gathering at bars in parishes with over a five percent positivity rate and make most businesses go back to 50 percent capacity, the Advocate reported.

Cases in Louisiana are trending in the wrong direction with 971 new cases reported on Monday. The state currently has more than 1,000 people hospitalized and has seen more than 211,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

"It is imperative we take action and we take action now,” Gov. Edwards said Tuesday.

YouTube suspends OANN for violating its Covid-19 policy

Ahiza García-Hodges

YouTube suspended the right-leaning One America News Network for one week on Tuesday after it posted a video that contained coronavirus misinformation.

YouTube removed the video for violating a policy prohibiting the posting of content that spreads coronavirus misinformation. The one that One America News Network, or OANN, posted contained claims of a guaranteed cure for the disease.

The suspension means OANN cannot post new content for a week and will be blocked indefinitely from the YouTube Partner Program, which means the network can no longer make money off its existing content. OANN can reapply for the YouTube Partner Program and be readmitted if it fixes the issues that led to the suspension. The network did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the full story here.

As Ohio Covid hospitalizations surge, officials fear Thanksgiving will push it over the edge

CINCINNATI — With the coronavirus increasingly sweeping across Ohio and hospitalizations surging, Gov. Mike DeWine fears Thanksgiving may be what pushes hospital occupancy rates to the brink.

The governor, along with some of the state’s top doctors, held an unscheduled news conference Monday to discuss the overwhelming pressure being placed on hospitals.

The conclusion: If Covid-19 hospitalizations continue to soar, surgeries and out-patient procedures will likely slow down.

Click here to read the full story.

YouTuber niece of Illinois mayor criticizes uncle for attending wedding amid Covid-19 surge

The internet celebrity niece of an Illinois mayor criticized her uncle on Sunday for attending a family wedding in Florida.

Kristin Chirico, former BuzzFeed personality and co-host of YouTube’s “The Kitchen & Jorn Show,” said Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico was “not sorry” for his actions, which were a “tremendous insult” to the community.

“He should be held accountable,” Chirico tweeted on Sunday, addressing organizers in Naperville. “Demand updates. You belong in this community, too. Your safety matters. YOU matter. I’m rooting for you.”

Her statement came after a widely circulated photo on social media showed Steve Chirico standing close together with his family at his daughter’s wedding — none of whom wore masks.

Click here to read the full story. 

Princeton University welcomes all students back to campus for Spring 2021

Princeton University announced Tuesday that the school was welcoming both undergraduate and graduate students back to campus next year for the spring semester.

President Christopher Eisgruber said most classes would remain online, regardless of residential status, and every class would continue to be accessible remotely for those who do not return to campus.

Students who opt for a residential experience must follow strict public health guidelines, including wearing a mask, social distancing, and regularly getting tested. Most social gatherings will be prohibited, students will not be allowed to host visitors, and traveling will be restricted, according to Eisgruber.

"Though we now believe that our preparatory planning, policies, and testing capacity will enable us to mitigate the risk of the pandemic appropriately, we recognize that the situation around us may get worse," Eisgruber said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor developments related to the pandemic, including public health guidance and state regulations."

Texas men charged with trying to sell 50 million nonexistent N95 masks

Two Houston-area men have been charged with attempting to sell 50 million nonexistent N95 masks to a foreign government, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

Paschal Ngozi Eleanya and Arael Doolittle allegedly defrauded the unidentified foreign government out of more than $317 million as part of the scheme, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick said in a press release Tuesday. Despite not possessing any masks, Eleanya and Doolittle purportedly said they had 50 million N95s made by 3M — and then negotiated a sales price that was five times what 3M lists them for. 

"Based on their representations, the foreign government allegedly wired the funds to complete the purchase," the statement from Patrick's office said. "Authorities disrupted the transaction before it could be completed."

If convicted, the men face up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 20 years in prison for two counts of wire fraud.

Covid antibody treatments may keep patients out of the hospital. Who should get the doses first?

The two authorized Covid-19 antibody treatments that may help keep high-risk patients out of the hospital are in such short supply that doctors are facing a daunting question as cases surge in the United States: Which patients should be first in line?

The antibody treatments must be given shortly after a patient tests positive, before severe symptoms begin. The hourlong IV infusions are considered to be among the more promising treatments for the disease.

But doses of the drugs, one made by Regeneron and the other by Eli Lilly, are extremely limited. Both companies received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in recent weeks.

Click here to read the full story.

Family sues after Publix grocery store worker dies from Covid-19

The family of a Publix employee who died after contracting the coronavirus alleges in a lawsuit that the supermarket company banned workers from wearing face masks at the start of the pandemic.

Gerardo Gutierrez, who worked in the deli department of the Miami Beach grocery store, died on April 28 from Covid-19 complications, according to a lawsuit filed Monday. The suit says the 70-year-old became ill after an employee he worked with tested positive for the virus.

Michael Levine, a lawyer representing Gutierrez's four children, said in a statement that the death was "completely preventable" and accused the supermarket company of choosing "profits over the safety of its employees."

"These employees, including Gerardo Gutierrez, continued to show up at work to help our communities. The least Publix could have done was allow employees to exercise their personal freedom and protect themselves from the spread of the virus,” he said.

Click here to read the full story.

Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes hit record high

Randi Richardson

The latest surge of coronavirus cases is fueling a record number of nursing home outbreaks, as the virus is spreading quickly inside long-term care facilities in the Midwest and the Great Plains while also re-emerging in facilities swamped by the first wave of the virus.

More than 1,300 nursing homes across the U.S. reported having three or more confirmed Covid-19 cases during the first week of November — the highest number ever reported in a single week, according to an NBC News analysis of federal data. The figure does not include outbreaks at assisted living facilities, which the federal government does not track.

Many of the new nursing home infections are emerging in the Midwestern states where the virus is besieging the broader community, including Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa, which reported some of the country's biggest weekly increases in suspected and confirmed cases among residents, the data showed. (Facilities report suspected cases when residents exhibit Covid-19 symptoms but have yet to receive positive test results.)

Click here to read the full story.

Azar says vaccine distribution could begin around Christmas

At a Tuesday press conference, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said a Covid-19 vaccine could be distributed "soon" after receiving emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, an authorization he said could come as soon as December 10.

The distribution timeline depends on the initial authorization and then drug company's ability to increase productions and distribute.

The vaccine would initially be provided to healthcare workers and at-risk groups, gradually becoming more available to the general public in the following months.

Trump Administration in talks with Biden transition team on Covid-19 efforts

Rear Adm. Erica Schwartz, the deputy surgeon general, spoke to President-elect Joe Biden’s team on Monday in a major step toward coordinating vaccination efforts going into the new White House administration, officials said.

"Our top career official Rear Adm. Schwartz … was last night in communication with the Biden transition team,” Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters on Tuesday. “We are immediately getting them all off the pre-prepared transition briefing materials. We will insure coordinated briefings  with them to insure they’re getting whatever information that they feel they need.”  

After weeks of delay, the head of the General Services Administration on Monday informed Biden the official governmental transition process has been approved.

As cases surge, Covid-19 test results are taking longer to come back

With a higher demand nationwide for Covid-19 tests, Quest Diagnostics, one of the biggest commercial laboratories in the United States, says its turnaround time for results has increased. 

The average turnaround time is now approximately two to three days for all patients and approximately two days for priority patients, Quest Diagnostics said in a press release Tuesday.

Last week, the company had said it was experiencing a "modest" increase, with the average test turnaround time at slightly more than two days. It warned that as the number of cases nationwide continued to grow, so would the demand for tests, and testing capacity would be further stretched.

The delays come as many people are seeking Covid-19 tests ahead of Thanksgiving. 

TikToker goes viral for sharing AstraZeneca vaccine trial experience

Last week, Ashley Locke, a Tennessee-based TikTok user, posted a video of herself participating in the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial

Since then, the video has racked up more than 2.6 million views. 

“The attention that it’s got ended up just being completely mind blowing to me," Locke told NBC News affiliate News 4 Nashville.

In the clip, Locke shows herself arriving at the facility, meeting with a doctor and, toward the end of the clip, herself receiving an injection of what she explains is either the vaccine or a placebo.

"Now I have check-ins and get blood drawn for the next two years to see how everything is going," Locke writes in the video.  

In subsequent videos posted to her account, Locke answers viewers' questions about the vaccine trial and describes her check-ins with the trial's doctors. 

The videos have not only given people a window into what it's like to be a part of a Covid-19 vaccine trial — they've also encouraged others to join. 

Clinical Research Associates, the Nashville office where Locke is participating in the trial, told News 4 Nashville that they've had an influx of sign ups since Locke's video. They said those signing up say they heard about the trial through social media, with some specifically citing TikTok. 

"To think that I had a hand in sharing that information and getting more people involved in the trial, that just feels really cool. I mean I definitely didn’t expect that so that’s awesome,” Locke told News 4 Nashville. 

6 dead, more than 70 infected in Massachusetts nursing home

Six residents at an assisted living facility in Massachusetts died after testing positive for the coronavirus, officials told NBC Boston on Monday.

The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 70 residents and employees at Atria Marland Place in Andover, Massachusetts, said Kymberly Codair, regional vice president of Atria Senior Living.

"Our thoughts are with their families during this difficult time," Codair said in a statement to NBC Boston.

Codair added that all residents who tested positive are under quarantine and receiving medical care, and the facility is operating with "escalated safety protocols," including restricted access to visitors, regular temperature checks, symptom screenings, and proper PPE for employees.

New York City emergency room doctor warns of potentially deadly consequences of Thanksgiving travel

A New York City emergency room doctor is warning Twitter users of the possible deadly consequences of travel and family gatherings during the holiday season. 

“There’s just no foolproof way to make holiday family meetups zero-risk,” tweeted Craig Spencer, 39, a doctor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Hospital. 

“In a couple of weeks, we're going to hear a lot of stories of people who got together from all over the country, interacted with their family members, and those family members are sick or maybe even died,” Spencer told NBC News over the phone. 

While doctors rely on personal protective equipment and will know which of their patients are Covid-19 positive, people attending meet-ups won’t have those same precautions, meaning the risk is going to be very high for many across the country, he added. 

Spencer hopes he and his fellow emergency room staff will have time to gather for some food on Thanksgiving, but isn’t holding his breath. “2020 is different than every year before,” he said. 

E.U. secures 160 million Moderna shots

The Associated Press

BRUSSELS — The European Union's executive said Tuesday it will sign a contract for up to 160 million doses of the experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the E.U. Commission, said the deal will be approved on Wednesday as the E.U. tries to build “one of the most comprehensive Covid-19 vaccine portfolio in the world."

The deal with Moderna is the sixth secured by the E.U. Commission with pharmaceutical companies, allowing its 27 member countries to buy more than 1 billion doses once the shots are ready.

Ohio shatters its single-day case record, U.S. counts its 20th day of 100,000-plus cases

Ohio broke its single-day Covid-19 case record of 8,808 set Friday, reporting 11,885 cases Monday.

This comes amid a continuing surge in the state and the country, which has tallied more than 100,000 cases a day since Nov. 4, according to NBC News figures.

Monday the U.S. counted 178,757 cases and 1,164 reported deaths.

The country's daily case average for the last week has been 171,820 cases per day, more than double the  84,718 per-day average four weeks ago.

Other states setting single-day records Monday:

  • Connecticut with a record 5,271 coronavirus cases*
  • Kansas with 7,526 cases*
  • Rhode Island with 2,572 cases*
  • Virginia with 3,242 cases
  • Wyoming with 1,262 cases and 26 dead

* These states didn't record cases over the weekend.

South Korea toughens Covid-19 restrictions as cases continue to surge

Stella Kim


Stella Kim and Reuters
Image: Diners sit in a restaurant in the Yeonnam district of Seoul
Diners sit in a restaurant in the Yeonnam district of Seoul on Sunday. Ed Jones / AFP - Getty Images

The South Korean government moved to implement tougher social distancing measures amid a burgeoning third wave of coronavirus infections on Tuesday. 

The country’s head of the Disease Control and Prevention Agency, Jeong Eun Kyeong, warned that if the spread of the virus is not curbed, infections could grow exponentially from the 349 new cases recorded on Tuesday. 

South Korea has been praised for its early tracing, testing and quarantine efforts to keep the virus in check, but health officials have been sounding the alarm about clusters of infections in the densely-populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to around half of the country’s 52 million residents. 

As of Tuesday, major coffee shops in Seoul will be required to only offer takeaway and delivery service, while restaurants must close to in-person dining after 9 p.m. Other restrictions will be placed on facilities like gyms, with attendance caps on religious gatherings and sporting events.

The country has reported 31,353 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 510 deaths — far fewer than in the U.S. or Europe.  

Japan pauses domestic travel push in two cities as Covid spreads


TOKYO - Japan paused its domestic "Go To Travel" promotion campaign in two cities following sharp rises in COVID-19 infections, a government minister said on Tuesday, a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's plan to help prop up regional economies.

Critics of the program had said it risked spreading the infection from major cities to the countryside.

"We have agreed to temporarily exclude trips destined for the cities of Sapporo and Hokkaido from the travel campaign," Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Tuesday.

Creating a Covid-19 vaccine is only the first step. Reaching the world is the next.

LONDON — If any coronavirus vaccine wins regulatory approval and becomes available to people in the coming months, its speedy deployment will have smashed what was previously thought possible.

And yet that might be the easy part.

Rolling out Covid-19 shots to even a fraction of the world's 7.8 billion people will require conquering an epic supply-chain challenge at a scale that dwarfs any other in history.

"It's going to be an extraordinary logistic challenge," David Salisbury, the British government's former director of immunization, told NBC News. "I just hope it works."

Click here to read the full story.

England to cut travel quarantines to 5 days with tests

The Associated Press

LONDON — Just in time for holiday travelers, England is cutting the two-week quarantine facing people arriving from regions not on Britain's coronavirus safe list, reducing it to as little as five days if they test negative for Covid-19.

The change to the quarantine rules, which was announced Tuesday and takes effect on Dec. 15, has been long-awaited by the travel industry, one of the worst-hit sectors during the pandemic. The change will bring the rules governing quarantines in England more in line with other European countries, including Germany.

Under the new rules, passengers can reduce the 14-day quarantine period by paying for a test from a private firm on or after Day 5 of their arrival at a potential cost of around 100 pounds ($133). Results normally take up to 48 hours but sometimes can come the same day.

Swedish watchdog finds serious failures in Covid care at nursing homes


STOCKHOLM — Sweden's health watchdog said on Tuesday it had uncovered "serious shortcomings" in Covid-19 care for residents of nursing homes where thousands have died, increasing pressure on the country's unorthodox pandemic strategy.

Nursing homes were ravaged by the initial wave of the coronavirus, prompting Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's somber admission in May that the country had failed to protect its elderly.

Known for its rejection of lockdowns and masks, Sweden has suffered many times more Covid-19 deaths per capita than its neighbors — though fewer than countries such as Spain — a failure authorities have in part blamed on inadequate controls and care at nursing homes.

Malaysia to shut some factories of world's biggest latex glove maker


Image: Medical workers at a Top Glove hostel under enhanced lockdown in Klang, Malaysia
Medical workers at a Top Glove hostel under enhanced lockdown in Klang, Malaysia on Nov. 18. Lim Huey Teng / Reuters

Malaysia will close some factories of the world’s largest maker of latex gloves in stages as it moves to screen employees for Covid-19 after more than 2,000 workers tested positive, authorities said.

Top Glove has racked up record profits this year on sky-rocketing demand for its products and protective gear, thanks to the pandemic.

But 28 factory buildings will be shut in phases after 2,453 workers tested positive for the virus, from 5,767 screened, the country's director-general of health Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Monday. The cases are the country’s largest active cluster and its second largest since the start of the pandemic.

The government put up barbed wire fences in front of the workers’ hostels on Tuesday, with checkpoints that were guarded by police and army personnel. 

Top Glove has around 16,000 employees and runs 47 factories across Malaysia, Thailand, China and Vietnam, with 36 of them producing gloves. Europe and North America are its biggest markets.

Spain's King Felipe in quarantine after close contact with Covid-19 case


Image: Spain's King Felipe delivers a speech at the Reconquista hotel in Oviedo, Spain
Spain's King Felipe delivers a speech at the Reconquista hotel in Oviedo, Spain on Oct. 16. Andres Ballesteros / Reuters file

Spain’s King Felipe VI started 10 days of quarantine on Monday after coming into close contact with someone who later tested positive for Covid-19, a Royal House source said.

The king, 52, has cancelled his public appearances during the quarantine period after the person tested positive on Monday, one day after they were in close contact, the source added.

Queen Letizia and their two daughters will continue their royal activities, the source said.

Spain, one of the epicenters of the early outbreak in Europe, has registered more than 1.58 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, western Europe’s second highest tally after France, and 43,131 deaths.

Australian airline boss wants 'vaccine passport' for travelers

The Associated Press

Image: The Qantas check in area is seen empty at Sydney International Airport on March 19, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
The Qantas check in area is seen empty at Sydney International Airport in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic on March 19. Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images

The boss of Australia’s largest airline said Monday that once a coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available, it may require passengers to use it before they can travel abroad.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said he’s been talking to his counterparts at other airlines around the world about the possibility of a “vaccination passport” for overseas travelers.

“We are looking at changing the terms and conditions to say for international travelers that we will ask people to have the vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” Joyce told Australia’s Network Nine television.

Australia has imposed some of the most severe border restrictions in the world since the pandemic began, closing its borders to most international visitors. The country has weathered the pandemic, with nearly 28,000 cases and just over 900 deaths since pandemic began, fewer than many other nations of its size.