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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.
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Health workers and relatives carry the body of a Covid-19 victim for cremation in New Delhi on Nov. 19, 2020.Manish Swarup / AP

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Tennessee won't require vaccines for its students

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

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

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.