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Nov. 30 Coronavirus updates: Experts warn of case surge from Thanksgiving travel

November 30 news about the coronavirus pandemic. The TSA had its highest number of passenger screenings since March, sparking worry of more cases.
Image: Nurse Carolina Garcia, 36, takes care of her father, Jose Garcia, 67, who is currently intubated and sedated due to COVID-19 during a surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces
Nurse Carolina Garcia, 36, takes care of her father, Jose Garcia, 67, who is intubated and sedated due to Covid-19, at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, N.M., on Sunday. Paul Ratje / Reuters

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The nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday could make the current surge in Covid-19 cases even worse in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, global deaths crept toward 1.5 million as the total hit 1.45 million on Monday.

732d ago / 5:01 PM UTC

Minnesota counted a record 9,005 Covid-19 cases Sunday

Minnesota broke the 9,000 cases in a day mark Sunday, logging 9,005 Covid-19 cases in a single day according to NBC News' tally. Fifty-seven people were reported dead.

Across the U.S., 138,616 new cases were counted alongside 804 reported deaths. Daily U.S. case counts have exceeded 100,000 since Nov. 4.

732d ago / 5:01 PM UTC

Grassley back at Capitol after Covid-19 quarantine

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, returned to the Capitol on Monday following his quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19, his office said. 

The senator, who is 87 and said on Nov. 17 that he had tested positive for the disease, was asymptomatic throughout the quarantine period, his office said, adding that his doctors cleared him to return to work. 

“This disease affects people differently," said Grassley, who at 87 is in a vulnerable age group. "I did not experience symptoms, but more than a thousand Americans are dying every day and many more are hospitalized. That means we all have to do our part to help protect our friends, family and fellow Americans. I will continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing." 

Grassley called on Congress to pass another round of coronavirus relief legislation.

“Promising vaccine news means there is light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "That makes staying vigilant in the coming months all the more important. Congress must do its part and pass long overdue relief legislation to help families, businesses and communities get through this crisis. I hope my colleagues reach the same conclusion and a bipartisan bill can pass very soon.”


732d ago / 4:11 PM UTC

Biden adviser says Americans must be better educated on vaccines

The nation's leaders "have a lot of work to do" to help Americans better understand vaccine importance and safety and "dispel many of the rumors" surrounding such treatment, an adviser for President-elect Joe Biden on Covid-19 said Monday.

America needs a "very comprehensive education program right now to help people understand why these vaccines are safe and effective," Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on MSNBC. "And that's missing right now. Operation Warp Speed has done a great deal to bring us vaccines — quickly and effective vaccines at that — but they've not done at all any real work to help the public become comfortable with these vaccines."

He added that education among communities of color are of great concern after some people have indicated they "will not take this vaccine because they fear it's an experiment." Moderna, the Massachusetts biotech firm that said Monday it will submit its coronavirus vaccine for federal regulatory approval, reportedly had issues enrolling enough Black, Latino and Native American volunteers to determine how well the vaccine works in these populations.

732d ago / 4:09 PM UTC
732d ago / 3:34 PM UTC

England's Covid-19 infections down 30 percent during national lockdown, study shows

LONDON — Covid-19 infections have fallen by 30 percent during England’s month-long national lockdown and the virus is now in retreat, a large-scale study of more than 100,000 volunteers showed on Monday.

England began its second national lockdown on Nov. 5 to curb rapidly rising infections and protect its health system. The country is due to return to a regional approach to restrictions from Dec. 2.

Levels of infection fell 30 percent, with 96 people per 10,000 infected between Nov. 13 and Nov. 24, according to interim results of the study by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI. The last iteration of the research, carried out between Oct. 16 and Nov. 2, showed 130 infections per 10,000 people.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced criticism over the decision to lock down from within his own party, where some said it was an unnecessary infringement on civil liberties, but opposition Labour Party said he had been too slow to react.

732d ago / 2:33 PM UTC

Congress returns to face funding deadline, pressure on coronavirus aid

WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill’s main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business.

Covid-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defense policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump’s final weeks in office.

The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed Covid-19 relief package that’s a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others.

Click here to read the full story.

732d ago / 1:56 PM UTC

TSA screens highest number of travelers since March

The Transportation Security Administration said Monday it had screened 1,176,091 passengers on Sunday, as passengers returned home from Thanksgiving travels. It's the highest recorded level since broad lockdowns hit in mid-March, but still less than half what it was a year ago.

The Centers for Disease Control had urged people to stay home for Thanksgiving, fearing holiday travel could add new strength to a recent surge of national Covid-19 infection numbers to new highs.

"What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"I don't want to frighten people except to say it's not too late at all for us to do something about this," he added, urging people to be careful when they travel back home and upon arriving and to take proven steps like social distancing and wearing masks.

732d ago / 1:52 PM UTC
732d ago / 1:45 PM UTC

Vietnam reports first locally transmitted Covid-19 case in 89 days

HANOI — Vietnam confirmed on Monday its first locally transmitted case of the coronavirus in nearly three months, after the infection of a man related to a flight attendant who had tested positive after returning from Japan two weeks ago.

The country's health minister ordered provinces and state agencies to tighten screening and controls and contact tracing efforts were launched after the 32-year-old man was confirmed as the first reported domestic infection in 89 days.

With its strict quarantine and tracking measures, Vietnam has managed to quickly contain its coronavirus outbreaks, allowing it to resume its economic activities earlier than much of Asia.

Vietnam crushed its first wave of coronavirus infections in April and went nearly 100 days without local transmission until the virus remerged and was quickly contained in the central city of Danang in July.

732d ago / 12:24 PM UTC

Moderna to submit vaccine for approval today

A front-runner coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna will be submitted for regulatory approval Monday, the company said — the second leading drug to pass the milestone this month.

Moderna said it will ask the United States Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization after completing its Phase 3 trial, finding the vaccine was 94.1 percent effective against Covid-19.

Moreover, Moderna said the vaccine was 100 percent effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.

These results were the same across all age, race and gender categories, the company said in a statement. There have been no serious safety concerns so far, it added, with the most common side effects being fatigue, muscle and joint pain and headaches.

Recent vaccine developments have been met with widespread optimism among scientists and stock markets. But experts are also urging caution until more data is released beyond the various companies' triumphant non peer-reviewed press releases. These vaccine trials are primarily geared toward preventing symptomatic disease, but questions remain about how effective they are at stopping transmission, too.

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732d ago / 12:19 PM UTC

St. Louis doctor says hospitals out of capacity or are at capacity

732d ago / 11:15 AM UTC

Don't fall victim to vaccine scams, officials warn

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say.

Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and dozens of other drug companies racing to complete and distribute the vaccine and treatments for the virus. The goal: to prepare for the scams that are coming, especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phony personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes.

“We're all very excited about the potential vaccine and treatments,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with Homeland Security Investigations. “But I also caution against these criminal organizations and individuals that will try to exploit the American public."

No vaccine has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved the first treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir. With vaccines and treatments both, it has warned about the potential for fraud.

732d ago / 11:10 AM UTC
732d ago / 11:03 AM UTC

35,000 Australians remain stranded abroad

Desalyn Bowyer hasn't seen her children since February. Then her father died in July, and she couldn't attend the funeral.

Bowyer, 40, moved from Sydney to Hong Kong last December for work. She planned to return to Australia every two weeks to spend time with her kids.

Little did she know that she would endure more than nine months of flight cancellations and dashed hopes. Now, as still more months tick by during which she is unable to return to Australia, her children, ages 7 and 14, have reached their own conclusion.

"They think I've abandoned them," Bowyer said by phone.

She's far from alone: More than 35,000 Australians are stranded abroad, according to Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, all of them trying to get home in spite of tough immigration rules designed to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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