November 20 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Sebastian Shukla and Angela Dewan, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, November 21, 2020
16 Posts
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4:46 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Germany reports highest rise in Covid-19 infections

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Germany reported 23,648 new Covid-19 cases for the past 24 hours in its highest daily increase to date, according to data from the country's infectious disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute.

That's 1,039 more cases than the previous day and it also overtakes the previous daily high of 23,542 cases announced last Friday.

Germany's official death toll also increased by 260, bringing the nationwide total to 13,630, the tally showed. The country's total coronavirus case count now stands at 879,564. 

According to the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) the number of patients in intensive care is now 3,588 -- the highest number since the pandemic began. 

Around 57% of patients in ICUs need ventilation, the data showed. When taking into account patients admitted to ICUs in Germany for other diseases, 21,934 intensive-care beds in the country are currently occupied; 6,273 intensive-care beds are vacant. 

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to discuss further measures to curb the spread of the virus next Wednesday in a meeting with the leaders of the country's 16 federal states.

2:29 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Keep schools open because kids need to be in class, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases looks on during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Thursday, November 19 in Washington.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases looks on during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Thursday, November 19 in Washington. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Schools need to remain open, even amid the surging coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday.

It’s important to be sensitive about the safety and the health of the children, he said, but it’s also important to keep children in school, Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

“You want to make sure you're sensitive and you do whatever you can to protect the children and protect the teachers because then indirectly you're protecting other people,” Fauci said. “Having said that, my feeling is the default position (is) keep the schools open, if you possibly can.”

New York City just closed down its school system to in-person learning and others have, too, as coronavirus cases spike again.

Fauci said he and many of his colleagues believe schools need to remain open despite the pandemic.

Part of the problem in trying to have a uniform policy for handling US schools during the pandemic is the vastness of the country and the cultural and geographical differences, the White House Coronavirus Task Force member said. Earlier Thursday, the task force held its first public briefing since July and members stressed that the official federal policy is to keep schools open.

Fauci said the patchwork of policies seen across the US, with some school systems closed and others open, does not help.

“Everybody's got to be in it together. You’ve got to pull together. We can't have people doing this this way, that that way. It doesn't work,” he said. “We've got to do it in a unified way,” he added.

2:55 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Swedish doctors frustrated at coronavirus strategy

From CNN’s Mick Krever, Phil Black, Per Nyberg and Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou in Stockholm, Sweden

Doctors in Uppsala, the Swedish region hit hardest by Covid-19, tell CNN they are frustrated with the lack of tougher coronavirus measures, and Swedes not adhering to government recommendations.

“Forceful measures in other places, other countries, it’s effective in reducing spread,” Dr. Rafael Kawati, head of intensive care at Uppsala University Hospital, told CNN.

Sweden is well into a second wave of cases: It's a scenario that health authorities said in the spring they hoped to avoid, by emphasizing personal responsibility over mandatory lockdowns.

Comparatively more deaths: The country has now recorded more than four times as many Covid-19 deaths than its three Nordic neighbors combined -- 6,340 as of Thursday.

The second wave “is not a surprise,” Kawati said. “We should have been able to do much better than that, regarding spread in the society.”

What are the authorities doing: The Swedish government has moved closer to advocating a de-facto lockdown -- but in recommendation only, not mandate.

At a news conference this week, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven could hardly have been clearer: “Don’t go to the gym, don’t go to the library, don’t have dinner, don’t have parties. Cancel.”

Advice not followed: At a central Stockholm gym this week, it was plain for a CNN crew to see that many were happy to ignore that advice, filling a room for a dance aerobics class. Participants kept their distance, but were mask-less for the hour-long class.

Dr. Fredrik Sund, head of the infectious diseases department at the hospital, was one of the first to raise the alarm about the November surge.

“I think if people were to follow the recommendations, it would be sufficient, because then more or less we would have a lockdown,” he said. “But since we are in this situation we are now -- no, it’s not enough.”


1:32 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

US reports more than 187,000 new Covid-19 cases in highest single day surge

From CNN's Tina Burnside 

The United States reported 187,833 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

The previous daily high was on November 13, with 177,244 cases.

A further 2,015 virus-related fatalities were also reported Thursday.

At least 11,715,316 Covid-19 cases, including 252,535 deaths, have now been reported nationwide.

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

Background: The US is seeing the fastest spread yet of the coronavirus, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said in its first public briefing in four months on Thursday. Earlier Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving. But other members of the task force said they would not support a nationwide lockdown.

Read more about the virus' spread in the US:

1:07 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Fauci confident the US CDC can get people vaccinated amid delay in transition of power

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a news conference with the coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington on Thursday, November 19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a news conference with the coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington on Thursday, November 19. Susan Walsh/AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knows how to get people vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday.

The infectious diseases expert said he’s confident that the agency can get Americans vaccinated once a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available, even if the presidential transition of power hasn’t started.

The CDC vaccinates 80 million people a year, Fauci said.

“So, the idea that this is the first time it's being done, the first time you're going to get 300 million, but this is a situation where the CDC does this every year,” he said. 

Fauci, who has been part of five transitions of presidential power over his 36 years as a federal scientist, wouldn’t talk directly about President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden and whether that would impact potential coronavirus vaccinations.

“Transitions are obviously important,” he said. “You do better with transitions. I've been through them and I know.”

Fauci likens presidential transitions to a relay race. 

“When you're running in a relay race, you have the baton, you give it to somebody who's not standing still. You give it to somebody that's actually starting to run. That makes the smooth transition,” he said.

“Of course, that's better than not doing it that way.”

12:40 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

India surpasses 9 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

India reached 9 million coronavirus cases Friday after reporting 45,882 new infections in the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The total number of reported cases in the country now stands at 9,004,365, with 132,162 people dying from the virus.

India, which has a population of 1.3 billion, has the second highest number of virus cases in the world, behind the United States.

Despite reaching the bleak milestone, India has seen a steady decline in the number of reported infections over the past few weeks.

It took India 23 days to go from 8 million recorded cases to the 9 million tally. Whereas it took 18 days to reach 7 million and 11 days to top 8 million, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Health Ministry.

More than 129.5 million tests had been conducted in the country as of Thursday, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Cases are surging in the capital: On Thursday Delhi passed 500,000 Covid-19 cases, when it recorded 7,546 new infections.

The Delhi government has reissued restrictions on social gatherings and increased fines for people who leave their homes without wearing a mask.

In a statement Thursday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that his administration was working to ensure medical infrastructure could cope with the rise in cases.

The capital currently has reported a total of 510,630 Covid-19 cases and 8,041 deaths.

12:20 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Fauci is confident in preliminary data of the two potential Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is confident about the two potential Covid-19 vaccine candidates that could be ready for use by next month.

“I've seen the numbers. They're going to hold,” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday.

Both Pfizer and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines showed a 95% efficacy rate in clinical trials.

“Those numbers are not going to change,” he said. “The issue is how long does the immunity last. How long did protection last? We don't know that right now but we know it works.”

Vaccine maker Pfizer has reported the results from its Phase 3 trial and its partner, Germany’s BioNTech, said the companies will file for Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization on Friday.

“We know also that it prevents severe disease,” Fauci said. “If you look at the severe disease in the Pfizer study, the severe disease was one in the vaccine group, and nine in the placebo group. In the Moderna study it was zero in the vaccine group, 11 in the placebo group."

Fauci said it was clear that the vaccine "prevents severe disease and it prevents symptomatic disease. Whether or not it prevents infection we're going to find out."

But he said both did well enough. “I'll take a vaccine that prevents people from getting seriously ill any day of the year,” he said.

The impact of a vaccine that can prevent somebody from getting ill and that can prevent somebody from getting seriously ill -- that’s huge," he said.
12:06 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Covid-19 vaccine front is looking very promising, Bill Gates says

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

As the coronavirus resurgence causes a steep increase in daily deaths and infection rates across the United States, Bill Gates is banking on a coronavirus vaccine to end the pandemic.

“We’ll look back and wish that we had done more before the epidemic hit and done a better job during the epidemic,” Gates, the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“The only good news is that the private sector innovation is going to come along with better therapeutics and the vaccine,” he said. 

Over the next 16 months we need to do the right things and then the vaccine coverage will get us out of the mess,” Gates added.

The US topped more than 185,000 daily Covid-19 cases on Thursday, its highest one-day total. The death toll has surpassed 252,000.

“It’s an incredible tragedy,” Gates said.

“In fact, it could have been even worse if the pathogen had been even more fatal.”

9:58 p.m. ET, November 19, 2020

South Australia to lift 6-day lockdown early after person lied to contact tracing authorities

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

South Australia will lift its six-day lockdown on Saturday -- a few days before it originally planned to -- after health authorities found that a person lied to contact tracing officials.

"SA health contact tracers found that one of the close contacts linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar deliberately misled the contact tracing team," South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said at a news conference Friday. "We now know that they lied."

Marshall said the state, home to more than 1.7 million people, will lift the strict "circuit breaker" restrictions announced earlier this week sooner than advised.

As of midnight Saturday, the stay-at-home order will be repealed, and South Australians will be permitted to exercise outdoors and go back to previous restrictions. 

What happened: The person who misled authorities claimed they bought a pizza from the Woodville Pizza Bar, which authorities identified as a potential hotspot earlier this week.

But the person was actually an employee and had been working there for some time, South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.

Stevens added that they would not have gone into lockdown had the person told the truth, and authorities are now working to identify and locate another group of the employee's associates.

Officials defend lockdown decision: The premier and police commissioner defended the decision to go into lockdown and said it was the right move at the time based on the information they had. The person who lied will not be fined or penalized, Stevens added.

"This has had a massive impact on our community," Stevens said. "People's lives have been upended as a result of information that lead us to a course of action that now was not warranted in the circumstances. We're now taking action to amend that."