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Covid live updates: Latest vaccine news; States report record new case numbers

Get live updates about Covid vaccines and CDC quarantine guidelines. The U.S. death toll continues to rise as some states report record Covid case numbers.
Image: Passengers wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus walk to their train at Wuhan railway station in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province
Passengers wearing face masks walk to their train at a Wuhan train station in China's central Hubei province on Wednesday.Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images

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

Meanwhile, doctors are facing daunting decisions around which patients should be first in line for the two authorized Covid-19 antibody treatments that may help keep high-risk patients out of the hospital. Both are in short supply.

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Alabama coach Nick Saban tests positive for Covid-19, feeling very 'mild symptoms'

Alabama coach Nick Saban has tested positive for Covid-19, school officials said Wednesday, just days before his team's annual grudge match against Auburn.

“He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a potential false positive,” according to a joint statement from team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson and head trainer Jeff Allen. “He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”

His Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings, is set to play Auburn on Saturday.

Saban, 69 previously tested positive ahead of the Oct. 17 Georgia game, but didn’t have any symptoms. He was cleared to coach after subsequent tests came back negative.

California church petitions Supreme Court over governor's restrictions

A Los Angeles-area church has asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction that would block California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order restricting the number of people who can gather in a house of worship during the pandemic.

The Harvest Rock Church, which is based in Pasadena and has campuses in other Southern California communities, contends that Newsom’s “tyrannical” order is unconstitutional, the City News Service reported. 

There was no immediate response from Newsom, but the church has repeatedly challenged the state’s pandemic restriction orders in court. Last month a local federal appeals court denied the church’s bid to overturn Newsom’s ban on indoor singing and chanting in a place of worship.

Studies have shown that singing indoors poses a high risk of spreading Covid-19. 

U.S. sees 15 days of record Covid hospitalizations

Connie Engelland in a room for patients with the coronavirus disease at a hospital in Hutchinson, Kan., on Nov. 20. Callaghan O'Hare / Reuters

More than 88,000 people were hospitalized in the U.S. on Tuesday, shattering all previous highs and marking the fifteenth consecutive day of record-breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The news comes as hospitals around the country report being overwhelmed with cases, and the country braces for a possible post-Thanksgiving surge.

In Oklahoma, the department of health said more than 1,550 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in the state on Tuesday, the highest since the start of the pandemic.

In Ohio, where hospitalizations are surging, officials say the health care system is at a breaking point.

“At the Cleveland Clinic, we have 970 caregivers out because they are either in quarantine or they have active Covid infections,” Dr. Robert Wyllie said Monday.

Hospitalization hit a record high in Oregon, too, where more than 450 people are hospitalized with the virus. ICU beds in the state are at 82% capacity, and 90% in metro areas, according to The Oregonian.

Rishi Sunak, U.K. finance minister, wins praise for staying calm during pandemic

LONDON — It's been a tough year for front-line politicians in Britain. Few have impressed as the country battles a rampant coronavirus outbreak and continues its never-ending Brexit saga.

Except, that is, for Rishi Sunak.

British Chancellor Rishi Sunak in Stoke-on-Trent, England.Andrew Fox / Getty Images file

The young, well-dressed finance minister was little known until recently, and only entered Parliament in 2015. On Wednesday, he again made headlines outlining his updated economic forecast for the coronavirus-battered country.

But the relatively inexperienced former banker, who has Indian roots, has been thrust into the spotlight as one of the country's most powerful politicians.

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Trump adviser Epshteyn tests positive for Covid-19

Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn tested positive for Covid-19, he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Epshteyn was at a crowded press conference at the Republican National Committee with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Nov. 19. He was also with Giuliani earlier this week at a radio interview taping. 

He said in his statement that he is quarantining and complying with contract tracing. 

Curfew starts tonight in El Paso, as Covid deaths continue to spike

Another 28 El Paso residents have died from Covid-19, authorities said Wednesday, as the west Texas community prepares to enforce a curfew aimed at slowing the deadly scourge. 

El Paso County Medical Examiner's Office staff lock-up the mobile morgues before moving bodies that are in bags labeled "Covid" from refrigerated trailers into the morgue office in El Paso, Texas, on Nov. 23, 2020.Ivan Pierre Aguirre / Reuters

El Paso County's Covid-19 death toll reached 905 on Wednesday morning, up 28 from Tuesday and marking the fifth day this month that the total has spiked by at least 22

The county, with clearance from Gov. Gregg Abbott, will begin a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew on Wednesday against any social or recreational activity, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said.

Late last month, Samaniego ordered the shutdown of all non-essential businesses. But an appeals court ruled that El Paso's decree overstepped state guidelines, even as the county had to import 14 mobile morgues to store and transport the overload of bodies.

Samaniego on Tuesday begged constituents to avoid big dinners Thursday and in-store Black Friday sales: "All of this will give us so many more people that might die if we avoid this. Those individuals will have many, many more Thanksgivings, many, many more Black Fridays, many more opportunities to be with their family." 

U.S. Covid deaths nearing 2,000 per day, the most in months

With the number of Covid-19 cases skyrocketing, the United States was once again perilously close to eclipsing a heartbreaking pandemic benchmark -- 2,000 deaths per day from the coronavirus, the latest NBC News data showed Wednesday.

A total of 1,925 fatalities from the virus were reported on Tuesday, 20 less than last Thursday when 1,945 were logged, the numbers showed.

That, according to the data, was the most deaths reported since July 28 when 2,217 were recorded.

The rising death toll came as Thanksgiving loomed and as lawmakers and public health experts have been pleading with Americans to shun large indoor gatherings where the virus can be easily spread and to wear masks and practice social distancing to slow the spread of a virus that has already killed more than 261,000 people in the U.S. -- the most in the world.

“Let's not look back and say, if we'd only done Thanksgiving differently, thousands upon thousands of people would still be with us,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday on MSNBC.

New York continues to lead all the states with 35,113 Covid-19 deaths, according to the NBC News tally. 

Texas is next with 21,329 coronavirus fatalities, the data shows. In the last seven days, Texas has reported 974 deaths while New York has logged 261, the data shows. The Lone Star state also leads the nation with more than 1.2 million Covid-19 infections.

Turkey Trot: Thanksgiving for the troops switches to grab-and-go meals

American troops around the world will have their annual home-cooked Thanksgiving meal this week, but it will look a little different this year, said the Defense Logistics Agency. Traditionally large group gatherings in dining facilities, this year the Thanksgiving meals have been switched to grab-and-go style takeout.

The DLA coordinated the shipment of Thanksgiving meals, including more than 131 tons of trimmings this year, to troops stationed from the U.S. to the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Korea, Japan, Qatar, and Honduras. Most of the food arrived in October and November. The agency has been providing Thanksgiving meals for troops for more than 50 years.

“Food is emotional, and this year more than ever, it’s so important that DLA Troop Support got the turkeys, hams and all the trimmings to our troops wherever they are stationed,” said Army Col. Eric McCoy, director of troop support subsistence for the DLA. “Our supply chain takes the holidays very seriously. Our troops are far away from home, and they definitely look forward to this meal. Disappointing them is not an option.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touts new Covid therapies

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took to Twitter on Wednesday to tout the emergency use authorizations recently issued to several experimental treatments for Covid-19 as well as the pending FDA meeting to consider an emergency use authorization for Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine candidate in mid-December.

He said that the recent emergency use authorization granted by the FDA to Regeneron's monoclonal antibody doubles the supply because another similar treatment from Eli Lilly was given EUA last week.

DeSantis said the new drug is "now on its way to hospitals throughout the state."

He said that thousands of long-term senior care facilities in the state are signed up to distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible if it is authorized and that seniors and front line workers will be prioritized.

"If we can redouble our efforts to protect the most vulnerable until the vaccine is deployed, we'll help safeguard the lives of thousands of Floridians," DeSantis said.   

Biden to deliver Thanksgiving address amid steep rise in Covid cases

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is expected to deliver a Thanksgiving address on Wednesday from Wilmington, Del.

Biden's White House transition team said in a press release that the president-elect's speech would touch on "shared sacrifices Americans are making this holiday season" while delivering a message "that we can and will get through the current crisis together."

Biden's speech comes as the coronavirus cases continue to increase around the country, raising alarm among some health officials that holiday travel and indoor gatherings could lead to more outbreaks. The country is also facing a surge in food insecurity due to the impact of the virus, with food banks around the country reporting long lines ahead of the holiday.

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