LA County, the most populous in the nation, has ordered citizens to stay at home and banned public and private gatherings until at least Dec. 20 as Covid-19 cases in the area continue to grow. The news came as the U.S. passed 13 million Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile the NFL ordered all facilities to shut down Monday and Tuesday due to a national rise in cases and after some players and coaching staff "celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with out-of-town guests."
In Europe, leaders are warning against family Christmas gatherings and urging people to stay at home with immediate family only.
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U.S. advisers to decide how to distribute vaccine
ATLANTA — A panel of U.S. advisers are set to meet Tuesday to vote on how scarce, initial supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine will be given out once one has been approved.
Experts have proposed giving the vaccine to health workers first. High priority also may be given to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older.
Tuesday’s meeting is for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group established by the CDC. The panel of experts recommends who to vaccinate and when -- advice the government almost always follows.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have asked the FDA to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna Inc. is expected to also seek emergency use of its vaccine soon.
Colorado governor, partner test positive
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Saturday night that he and his partner, Marlon Reis, have tested positive for coronavirus.
"They are both asymptomatic, feeling well, and will continue to isolate in their home," the governor's office said in a statement.
"No person or family is immune to this virus," he said in the statement. "I urge every Coloradan to practice caution, limit public interactions, wear a mask in public, stay six feet from others, and wash your hands regularly."
Polis said on Wednesday that he would quarantine after being exposed to the virus. He initially tested negative Wednesday night, his office said.
Colorado has recorded 225,283 cases and 2,983 deaths since the pandemic began.
Another California county issues stricter stay-at-home orders
Public health officials in Santa Clara County, California, home to Silicon Valley, followed San Francisco and Los Angeles on Saturday in announcing stricter stay-at-home rules as the number of coronavirus patients continues to rise nationwide.
County health officials also reported a record 760 new Covid-19 cases and 239 hospitalizations.
The new restriction set to begin Monday include a ban on professional, collegiate and youth sports and a 200-person limit on outdoor gatherings. Indoor retailers will be allowed to operate at 10 percent of normal capacity and grocery stores, drugstores and pharmacies at 25 percent.
The NFL's San Francisco 49ers, which plays at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, said in a statement: "We are aware of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department's emergency directive. We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed."
The county also said travelers from more than 150 miles away would have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
San Francisco imposes new stay-at-home orders
In a little more than a month's time the city of San Francisco went from being among the state's best-performing communities when it comes to Covid-19 cases to yet another city constrained by California's strictest stay-at-home rules.
The office of Mayor London Breed on Saturday announced that limited stay-at-home orders would go into effect as the city has been placed in California's most-restrictive purple tier as a result of a high rate of coronavirus cases.
"While the number of cases is increasing significantly, the people of San Francisco have shown they can take action and follow the guidance to get us through this pandemic," Breed said in a statement Saturday.
The city reports an average of 130 new cases a day, which compares with 73 in the first week of November.
The new restrictions, most scheduled to go into effect at noon Sunday, include the full closure of indoor portions of places of worship, movie theaters, gyms, museums, aquariums, and zoos. Retail stores must limit capacity to 25 percent.
Unlike in Los Angeles County, where restaurants are now limited to delivery and takeout, San Francisco officials said they'd allow restaurants to host outdoor diners.
Health officials in the state's largest cities—Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco—have now all imposed the strictest stay-at-home measures since spring in response to the national case surge.
Biden's transition coronavirus team adds three members
President-elect Biden on Saturday announced the addition of three new Covid-19 advisory board members who he believes will help in the development of "a robust and aggressive response to contain the virus."
The new members include a Jane Hopkins, mental health expert, David Michaels, an epidemiologist, and Jill Jim, director of Navajo Nation's department of health.
“As COVID-19 surges across the country, I need a team advising me and a transition that offers diverse perspectives and viewpoints," said Biden in a statement.
Below are the bios for the three:
Jane Hopkins, RNMH: A trained as a nurse in England, specializing in mental health. Hopkins worked for over 20 years as a bedside nurse, most recently at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and Snoqualmie Hospital. Hopkins was a bargaining team member before becoming an organizer, and later Executive Vice President, with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. Hopkins serves on Washington State’s COVID task force and Safe Start Advisory Board, the Washington Workforce Board, and the boards of the 1199NW Training Fund and the Washington State Labor Council. She received the Black Lives Matter Award from the SEIU Washington State AFRAM Caucus. Born in Sierra Leone, Hopkins immigrated to the U.S. in 2000.
Jill Jim, PhD, MPH, MPA: An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and the Executive Director at Navajo Nation Department of Health. Her career has focused on preventing chronic diseases and addressing healthcare and health disparities among American Indians/Alaska Natives. For 18 years, she has served urban and tribal communities in non-profit, state, federal agencies and most recently tribal government, serving as a cabinet member for the Navajo Nation Nez-Lizer Administration. Her leadership has been essential to the COVID-19 response on the Navajo Nation, as the Navajo Department of Health is authorized to respond to the declared public health emergency.
David Michaels, PhD, MPH: An epidemiologist and Professor of Environmental andOccupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University. He served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health from 2009 to January 2017, the longest serving administrator in OSHA’s history. During the Clinton Administration, Dr. Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety, and Health, charged with protecting the workers, community, and environment around the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities. Much of his research focuses on protecting the integrity of the science underpinning public health, safety, and environmental protections.
NBA announces new coronavirus protocols ahead of new season
NBA players who test positive for the coronavirus this season may have to miss nearly two weeks in some instances before being allowed to return to the court, the league told its teams Saturday.
That revelation was one of many in a 63,000-word document, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, that explained some of the heath and safety protocols for the looming season. Preseason games begin Dec. 11 and regular-season contests start Dec. 22.
The document still needs to be ratified by the league and the National Basketball Players Association, but at least provides some sort of blueprint for the start of training camps in the coming days. All players who will be part of training camp need to begin a testing program by Monday — many were expected to start it Saturday — and teams can begin holding mandated group workouts sometime between Dec. 4 and Dec. 6.
Players, coaches and other key staff are expected to be tested daily in most cases.
The league, in a separate memo, also told teams that even with the detailed prevention and mitigation strategies “it is likely that some staff, players and other participants in the 2020-21 season nonetheless will contract COVID-19.” The league urged teams to have plans ready to assist visiting team personnel or referees who happen to test positive away from their home cities, such as directing them toward isolation accommodations if necessary and to assist with that person’s care while recovering.
Pfizer's first Covid-19 vaccine doses flown to U.S.
The first doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine are on the move.
A source familiar with the planning tells NBC News that United Airlines has already flown its first doses of the vaccine on a chartered plane from Belgium. The flight was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Pfizer is developing the vaccine with German partner BioNTech. The pharmaceutical has said it has vaccine production facilities in Puurs, Belgium; St. Louis, Missouri; Andover, Maryland; and Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Pfizer has already applied for emergency use authorization, and its vaccine will be distributed upon federal approval.
United wouldn't confirm details, but in a written statement said it will "support a vaccine distribution effort on a global scale."
In a separate statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said it was "supporting the first mass air shipment of a vaccine."
A source familiar with the process told NBC News the FAA is allowing United to carry 15,000 pounds of dry ice per flight — five times more than is usually permitted — to keep the doses sufficiently cold.
Queues at barber shops as France eases coronavirus lockdown
People eager to get a haircut stood in line outside barber shops and department stores selling gifts and Christmas decorations were busy on Saturday as France partially reopened following a month-long lockdown.
Shops selling non-essential goods such as shoes, clothes and toys reopened in the first easing of a nationwide lockdown that started on Oct. 30 and will remain in place until Dec. 15. Bars and restaurants remain closed till Jan. 20,
"Today we have people who had been waiting for weeks while others are coming now so they can look good for Christmas, as one never know what happens next," Remi Thor, a barber in central Paris, told Reuters.
London police tell anti-lockdown protesters to stay home
Police in London have warned thousands planning to attend an anti-lockdown protest in the city that the gathering will be unlawful due to national coronavirus restrictions.
The United Kingdom, which has recorded 1.5 million Covid-19 cases and more than 57,000 related deaths, is on a month-long lockdown until Dec. 2 when a system of regional restrictions comes into force.
“The Met has a proud history of facilitating protest. However, our city is in a critical fight against Covid-19 and we cannot allow gatherings to jeopardize the progress and sacrifices our communities have made in fighting this virus," Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell said in a statement.