November 19 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Sebastian Shukla, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 1:28 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020
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3:27 a.m. ET, November 19, 2020

Russia surpasses 2 million coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina and Anna Chernova

Russia surpassed 2 million Covid-19 cases on Thursday, according to data from the country’s coronavirus response center. 

In the past 24 hours, Russia officially reported 23,610 new cases of Covid-19 and 463 deaths -- both the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Russia's official caseload stands at 2,015,608 on Thursday, with 34,850 deaths, although independent observers and critics have cast doubts on the country's counting methods. 

Read more about Russia's Covid crisis:

3:10 a.m. ET, November 19, 2020

Make the holidays a turning point in the pandemic by masking up, health experts urge Americans

From CNN Health's Maggie Fox

Masks are advertised near a handwashing station amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the city on November 18, in El Paso, Texas.
Masks are advertised near a handwashing station amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the city on November 18, in El Paso, Texas. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Americans could make the holidays into a turning point for the coronavirus pandemic by masking up and following other tried and true safety precautions, the Infectious Diseases Society of America said Wednesday.

“At this critical juncture, we call on all states to adopt proven measures to mitigate the current surge of transmissions,” the group, which represents 12,000 physicians, scientists and public health experts who specialize in infectious diseases, said in a statement.
“Volumes of data have shown that masks are effective in reducing the risk of transmission. Data also show that communities with mask requirements have higher rates of mask use. We call on all people across America to protect themselves and others by following evidence-based measures to stop the spread of the virus,” the group added.

The group said virtual gatherings remained the safest way to bring friends and family together from distant points, while outdoor settings could reduce the risks of gathering with people from other households.

It urged people who had been exposed to an infected person to stay in quarantine for two weeks. “If you have been infected, you should remain isolated until it has been determined that you are no longer infectious,” the group said.

“All these measures will remain essential to advances against this pandemic even after the development and distribution of a safe and effective vaccine,” it said.

2:46 a.m. ET, November 19, 2020

Indiana reports more than 6,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

Indiana reported 6,143 new positive coronavirus cases and 60 deaths on Wednesday, according to its Covid-19 dashboard.

“If you look at the cases per 100,000 (people), it’s even more worrisome,” the state’s health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said in a news conference.
“With that single metric, our entire state is in red," she said, referring to the most alarming grade with more than 200 weekly cases per 100,000 people.

Box said hospitals in the state are “struggling," with more than 3,000 patients hospitalized due to Covid-19.

When asked about two state legislators who refused to wear masks on the Indiana House floor and filed motions to end the state public health threat, Box said “there is no single Hoosier in this state” that should not follow the mask mandate, whether to protect themselves or others. 

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who is quarantining due to possible Covid-19 exposure and joined the news conference remotely, said he appreciated that the “vast majority” of the House of Representatives were wearing masks. But he said enforcement falls on local jurisdictions.

“(Wearing a mask) provides more certainty than just distancing yourselves,” he said. “It is the state policy, it’s locally enforced … we have a policy in place. It’s there because it works. And we leave it, obviously, to the local entities to enforce.”
2:09 a.m. ET, November 19, 2020

No new cases reported in South Australia on first day of "circuit-breaker" lockdown

From CNN's Angus Watson in Canberra and Chandler Thornton

A general view of Rundle Street East on November 19 in Adelaide, Australia.
A general view of Rundle Street East on November 19 in Adelaide, Australia. Roy VanDerVegt/Getty Images

The Australian state of South Australia reported no new Covid-19 cases Thursday on the first day of its six-day "circuit-breaker" lockdown, according to the state's Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier.

South Australia announced Wednesday it would shut down for six days following an outbreak of 23 cases in Adelaide.

"We have no new cases to report and I'm really pleased with that news," Spurrier said in a news conference Thursday, adding that there are still 17 suspected cases.

Meanwhile, South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said a record number of people had received Covid-19 tests over the past two days.

"Yesterday alone almost 12,000 tests were taken and processed by public & private labs," Marshall said in a tweet Thursday. "A huge shout out to our frontline workers - you're doing an amazing job."

16 hr 27 min ago

US reports more than 170,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Tina Burnside 

The United States reported 170,161 new coronavirus cases and 1,848 virus-related deaths on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

At least 11,527,483 Covid-19 cases and 250,520 deaths have now been reported in the US, according to the university's tally.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

CNN is tracking US cases:

2:47 a.m. ET, November 19, 2020

Tokyo raises Covid-19 alert to highest level amid surging cases

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Commuters wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on a street in Tokyo on November 17.
Commuters wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on a street in Tokyo on November 17. Koji Sasahara/AP

Tokyo is raising its Covid-19 alert to level 4, the highest of the four-tier alert system, officials in the Japanese capital announced on Thursday.

"New infections and intractable cases are increasing rapidly and we are at the phase of rapid infection expansion," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said during a meeting with medical experts.

Koike urged the public and business owners to follow prevention measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, air ventilation, and minimizing dining in groups as the holiday season approaches.

Dr. Norio Ohmagari, chairman of the city's expert monitoring meeting, said infections are rising in all age groups including the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. 

"New infections in the past week went over 2,000. If this pace continues, the daily infections might increase to over 1,000 per day," Ohmagari warned.

Tokyo confirmed 493 new infections Wednesday, the highest daily increase since the pandemic began. 

12:57 a.m. ET, November 19, 2020

Nursing homes urged to "double down on infection control" during holiday season 

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday urged nursing homes to “double down on infection control and adhere to testing requirements” during the holiday season.

"The approaching holiday season remains fraught with danger for the vulnerable residents of America’s nursing homes," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.

The agency said while residents have a right to leave their nursing homes to see family over the holidays, even a short trip can raise the risk of exposure to Covid-19.

It encouraged facilities to educate residents about the risks of leaving the facility, to go over steps they should take to reduce their Covid-19 risk and to encourage them to consider alternatives to family gatherings, like celebrating by phone or video.

As of Nov. 1, nearly 66,000 nursing home residents have died from Covid-19, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

12:30 a.m. ET, November 19, 2020

India's capital reports highest Covid-19 daily death toll as cases pass half a million

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Family members in personal protective equipment perform the burial of a person who died of Covid-19 at a graveyard in New Delhi on November 12.
Family members in personal protective equipment perform the burial of a person who died of Covid-19 at a graveyard in New Delhi on November 12. Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto/Getty Images

India's capital region recorded its highest number of new fatalities from Covid-19 on Thursday, with 131 deaths, according to the Delhi government.

The figure surpasses the previous daily high of 104 deaths reported last Friday. A total of 7,943 people have died of the virus in Delhi.

The city also reported 7,486 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing its total caseload to 503,084.

The Delhi government has reintroduced restrictions on social gatherings. The number of people allowed at weddings is now limited to 50.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Tuesday that Covid-19 cases rose in the city because people weren't practising social distancing or wearing masks in markets, warning that the government will be forced to shut down certain areas and treat them as hotspots.

National numbers: Across India, 45,576 new coronavirus cases and 585 additional deaths were reported on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The total number of cases in India stands at more than 8.9 million, among which 443,303 are considered active.

12:02 a.m. ET, November 19, 2020

Covid-19 vaccine distribution won’t be slowed by presidential transition delay, says HHS assistant secretary

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Adm. Brett Giroir listens during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on September 16 in Washington.
Adm. Brett Giroir listens during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on September 16 in Washington. Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccine distribution won’t be slowed by the delay in the presidential transition process, Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday.

“I do want to reassure the American people, though, that there's going to be no delay in vaccine distribution,” Giroir told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “This is an incredibly well-oiled plan.” 

Giroir said that the US will have at least 50 million vaccine doses distributed by the end of 2020.

“We don't expect any loss of months, or weeks or even a day,” he added.

Giroir said that he doesn’t make the rules, but he does want to be transparent. HHS staff will not work with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team until the General Services Administration (GSA) makes a determination that Biden is the President-elect, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday.

“The deputy Surgeon General, Dr. Erica Schwartz, is the transition official for HHS,” Giroir said. “The rule is if someone from the Biden transition team contacts one of those on the presidential transition team, the official person for each agency, they are supposed to notify Dr. Schwartz -- Admiral Schwartz -- and she is supposed to tell the GSA.”