November 13 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Steve George, Zamira Rahim, Emma Reynolds and Roya Wolverson, CNN

Updated 11:46 a.m. ET, November 14, 2020
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12:50 p.m. ET, November 13, 2020

Louisiana governor blames Halloween for rise in cases

 From CNN's Tina Burnside 

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced on Friday that he will be releasing some of the highest coronavirus positive numbers the state has seen in quite some time. 

Edwards blamed the recent surge in cases in large part on the lack of mitigation efforts during the Halloween holiday.

For the immediate future, it's going to get really, really tough for the people of Louisiana," Edwards said during a news conference on Friday. 

The Louisiana Department of Health is expected to release the most up to date numbers this afternoon. 

12:42 p.m. ET, November 13, 2020

Ireland may take staged approach to easing Covid-19 lockdown, says prime minister

From Katharina Krebs in London

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin says Ireland may take a staged approach to exiting its Covid-19 lockdown after December 1.

In an interview with Ireland’s RTE Radio 1 on Friday, Martin added that the exit plan is still being worked on by the government. 

No definitive decision has yet been made on the hospitality sector operating over the Christmas period and the government plans to give an update on that before the end of November.

“Our sense and my sense from the research we're doing from the public data is that it's not going to be same Christmas as last year, but it is going to be a good Christmas and a meaningful one,” Martin said.

He said that the government would issue advice on international travel during the holiday period towards the end of the month. 

12:37 p.m. ET, November 13, 2020

NYC mayor urges state to reevaluate closing bars, restaurants

From CNN’s Jonathan Kubiak 

 Noam Galai/Getty Images
 Noam Galai/Getty Images

As bars, gyms, and restaurants prepare for the first night with a 10pm state-mandated curfew, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the closure of these establishments needs to be “reassessed.” 

“Even though the state makes the ultimate decisions here on the industry issues, I’m very cognizant of the fact that we have to keep people’s livelihoods in mind here,” the mayor said Friday morning on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. 

“The question is really how we balance the bigger factor,” said the mayor. "I don’t want people to think that [closing] indoor dining and gyms are the magical solution to all of our problems because, in fact, our test-and-trace operation is not showing, you know, the kind of impact from those locales that you have seen in other places around the country; we have something much more generalized here.”

Instead, the mayor suggested that holiday travel will be much more impactful in determining the future of governmental response to the coronavirus. “We talk about restaurants or gyms, but much more decisive will be if we can successfully limit travel and limit indoor gatherings” during the upcoming holiday season."

12:06 p.m. ET, November 13, 2020

Passengers who tested negative for Covid-19 on the Caribbean cruise ship will be allowed to travel home

From CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Havana and Marnie Hunter

Passengers who tested negative for Covid-19 aboard a cruise ship in Barbados will be able to leave the ship and travel home, two passengers told CNN Friday. 

A total of seven SeaDream 1 passengers have tested positive for coronavirus as of Friday morning, according to passengers Gene Sloan and Ben Hewitt. 

Hewitt said the crew informed passengers that everyone who had tested negative twice would be allowed to disembark the ship and fly home Saturday.  

The background: The SeaDream Yacht Club cruise was the first to return to the Caribbean and was meant to demonstrate that increased safety protocols, including regular testing aboard the ship, could allow cruise voyages to take place during the pandemic. 

After one passenger fell ill on Wednesday, the SeaDream 1 was forced to return to Barbados and 53 passengers and 66 crew were tested.

Read the full story here:

11:58 a.m. ET, November 13, 2020

Dozens of Secret Service officers self-isolating after coronavirus exposure

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Kate Bennett, and Betsy Klein

A Secret Service officer patrols at the White House on November 9, in Washington.
A Secret Service officer patrols at the White House on November 9, in Washington. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Several dozen US Secret Service officers are either self-isolating after contracting coronavirus or are self-quarantining after coming into contact with someone who tested positive, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN. 

Even USSS officers are unsure of the numbers because they aren't being told an exact number by their superiors, this person said. 

A separate Secret Service source told CNN that he has heard nothing internally about officers testing positive or self-quarantining.

No numbers. No emails. No conversations during briefs. Nothing," this person said. 

Citing privacy and operational security concerns, a Secret Service spokesperson told CNN that the service will not release how many of its employees have tested positive for coronavirus or how many are, or have been, quarantined. 

"The Secret Service maintains well-established protocols inclusive of testing, conducting contact tracing related to confirmed and suspected exposure, and immediately isolating of any employee who tests positive for COVID-19," the spokesperson told CNN. "This program ensures that every precaution is taken to keep our protectees, employees, families, and the general public, safe and healthy."

There are approximately 7,600 USSS employees, about 1,600 of whom serve as uniformed division officers.

All employees who worked on the campaign trail are being tested, an official with knowledge of the matter said.

“The USSS is taking all necessary precautions and putting anyone who is considered close contact in quarantine,” the official said, adding, “There has been zero impact on the mission. Staffing levels are high enough to manage.”

The White House declined to comment to CNN. 

12:54 p.m. ET, November 13, 2020

Liverpool and Egypt soccer star Mohamed Salah tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Martijn Edelman and Dan Kamal

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group D stage match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield on October 27, in Liverpool, England.
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group D stage match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield on October 27, in Liverpool, England. Peter Byrne - Pool/Getty Images

The Egyptian Football Association announced via Twitter on Friday that soccer star Mohamed Salah has tested positive for coronavirus while away on international duty with his country.

It comes on the eve of Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Togo on Saturday.

According to the Egyptian FA, the star forward is said to be symptom free, while the rest of his Egyptian teammates returned negative tests.

Liverpool Football Club, who won the English Premier League last season, sit third in the table and are scheduled to play league-leaders Leicester City on Sunday, November 22.

More sport: The NFL’s Cleveland Browns announced Friday that one of the team’s players has tested positive for Covid-19. The unnamed player began immediately to self-isolate, and the Browns’ facility was closed Friday morning while contact tracing was being conducted.

The team says it will continue to hold meetings remotely and consult with league and medical experts on the next steps, in accordance with the NFL-NFLPA intensive Covid-19 protocol.

Cleveland is scheduled to host the Houston Texans Sunday afternoon. Last week, the Texans announced one of their players tested positive for Covid-19 and shut down the team facility for the day.

This post has been updated to reflect that the date of Liverpool's next Premier League match has been changed.

11:46 a.m. ET, November 14, 2020

Pfizer vaccine presents "unique challenges" for distribution, Azar says

From CNN Health's Andrea Diaz

Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, listens during a news conference at the CDC Roybal Campus in Atlanta on Wednesday, October 21.
Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, listens during a news conference at the CDC Roybal Campus in Atlanta on Wednesday, October 21. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday praised the efforts of Pfizer for record-time research and a vaccine "with 94% efficacy positive data,” but acknowledged there are “unique challenges” for distributing the vaccine.

"The Pfizer vaccine does present unique challenges that we, and the military, and Pfizer, and the distribution channel, have all been have all worked out with our governors," Azar said during an interview Friday on Fox Business Network. "The Pfizer vaccine does require extra cold storage; it also will come in large quantities, so it will be best attuned early on to mass vaccination programs, for instance of health care workers at hospitals or our skilled nursing facilities."

Azar said that CVS and Walgreens will be available to assist nursing homes, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities with mass vaccination programs, if the data and science support vaccinating those populations with the Pfizer vaccine.

When asked if the country should shut down now there is a surge in Covid-19 cases, Azar said he did not believe that was the way to go.

"The Europeans have placed a primacy on keeping their universities, and their K through 12 schools, open; they've done so even as they take other aggressive measures in their countries. We need to be having the same type of prioritization, our kids and our safe settings, keeping those open, and then taking interventions that all of us can do that are common sense that will prevent the spread of disease in our personal lives," said Azar. 

 

12:04 p.m. ET, November 13, 2020

How American Jews and Muslims are burying their coronavirus dead

From Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor

Sacred rites evolve over time, and the resurgent pandemic that has hammered the US has sent that evolution into hyperspeed, says David Zinner, president of Kavod v'Nichum, a national group for Chevra Kadishas, which is Hebrew for "sacred society."

"We went from caring for a person's body the way we have for four hundred years to suddenly not being able to do that anymore," Zinner said.

While public health officials are still learning about how Covid-19 spreads, the CDC has said "it may be possible" that people could become infected by touching the body of someone who has died of the virus.

That has changed the way Jews and Muslims in the United States are burying their dead.

At the D'Alessandro Funeral Home & Crematory in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, women gently pour purifying water for a deceased woman in a coffin. A soul on the threshold deserves the utmost care.

When the ritual concludes, the body is ready for the earth, the soul for the afterlife. But first the women, members of a Jewish burial society in Pittsburgh, must sing a final prayer.

They press the Mute button.

On Zoom their voices refuse to ring as one, so one singer takes the lead while the undertaker, who is Catholic, wraps the body in simple white shrouds.

The D'Alessandro funeral home has been serving its community since 1897. But this -- a Catholic funeral director participating via Zoom in a centuries-old Jewish tradition -- is likely a first, said Dustin D'Alessandro, the mortuary's supervisor.

Read the full feature here:

10:27 a.m. ET, November 13, 2020

US President-elect’s adviser says Biden won’t "shut the whole country down"

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Vivek Murthy, then-surgeon general of the United States, attends an event in Miami on March 6, 2015.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, then-surgeon general of the United States, attends an event in Miami on March 6, 2015. Johnny Louis/WireImage/Getty Images

A co-chair of Joe Biden’s coronavirus taskforce has assured the American people that the President-elect will focus on targeted restrictions based on viral spread in particular areas, rather than a broad shutdown for the whole country.

Dr. Vivek Murthy told the ABC's “Good Morning America” on Friday that restrictions would be tightened or loosened depending on the local situation. The approach is one that several European countries had taken before implementing nationwide lockdowns.

“Right now, the way we should be thinking about this is more like a series of restrictions that we dial up or down depending on how bad [a] spread is taking place in a specific region,” Murthy said. 

He gave New York City as an example, where interventions are being targeted down to the ZIP code. 

 “We’re not in a place where we’re saying shut the whole country down,” he said. “We’ve got to be more targeted.” 

If this doesn’t happen, Murthy said, people will become more fatigued, schools won’t be open to children and the economy will be hit harder. 

“So, we’ve got to follow science, but we’ve got to also be more precise than we were in the spring,” he said.