November 20 coronavirus news

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

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

California sets new daily record for Covid-19 infections

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Lines of vehicles make their way to and from Dodger Stadium for Covid-19 testing on Friday, November 20, in Los Angeles.
Lines of vehicles make their way to and from Dodger Stadium for Covid-19 testing on Friday, November 20, in Los Angeles. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

California reported 13,005 new coronavirus cases on Friday, shattering the state’s record for the most new cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

The unprecedented number of new infections surpassed the state’s previous peak of 12,807 reported in July when California last experienced a surge in cases.

An additional 91 deaths were also reported Friday, bringing the state’s total to 18,557 Covid-19-related fatalities. 

The 14-day positivity rate in California has climbed to 5.2%, more than double what it was in mid-October. An average of about 166,000 tests are being conducted in the state each day.

The number of newly-admitted patients have far exceeded the two-week hospitalization average of 4,329. On Friday, the state reported an additional 178 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 for a total of 5,497. The number of available intensive care unit beds is waning slightly, with just over 1,900 beds currently vacant.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and health officials have implored residents to avoid gatherings and are implementing an overnight curfew for the vast majority of the state beginning Saturday. Officials are also urging residents not to travel for the upcoming holidays.

Note: These numbers were released by the California Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project. 

3:39 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Johnson & Johnson expects to have efficacy results on its Covid-19 vaccine by early 2021

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

David Benito/Getty Images
David Benito/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson expects to have an efficacy readout on its coronavirus vaccine by January or February of 2021, Dr. Paul Stoffels, the company's chief scientific officer, said Thursday.

“The efficacy endpoint should be there in the first few weeks or months, January or February, in the new year,” Stoffels said at a conference sponsored by Reuters called the Reuters Total Health Conference.

Stoffels said the company is recruiting upwards of 1,000 people a day for its vaccine clinical trial and expects to reach its goal of 60,000 participants by the end of the year.

“It's not just the efficacy. It's also the safety,” Stoffels said. “We need half of the people having two months of exposure to the vaccine – as you probably know from the FDA guidelines – so that will bring us around the year end, early next year for having all the data.”

Stoffels said Johnson & Johnson is also working hard to meet diversity goals for its clinical trial.

Johnson & Johnson paused its trial in October due to an unexplained illness in a participant. Stoffels the independent Data Safety and Monitoring Board determined that illness was not related to the vaccine, and the company has not had any unexpected events since.

“The DSMB is looking very closely,” he added. “We have regular reviews on the safety, and so far, so good.”

2:50 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Pfizer and BioNTech file with FDA for emergency authorization for their coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

A health worker injects a person during Pfizer clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine in Hollywood, Florida, on September 9.
A health worker injects a person during Pfizer clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine in Hollywood, Florida, on September 9. Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine candidate.

“This is a historic day, a historic day for science and for all of us,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a video shared on Friday. “It took just 248 days to get from the day we announced our plans to collaborate with BioNTech to our FDA submission day. We have operated at extraordinary speed in our clinical development program, from concept to regulatory filing, while always maintaining our focus on safety.”

This is the first coronavirus vaccine to seek a regulatory OK in the United States. Pfizer and BioNTech said a statement Friday that their vaccine candidate, known as BNT162b2, will potentially be available for use in high-risk populations in the United States by the middle to end of December.

The submission to the FDA is based on results from the Phase 3 clinical trial of Pfizer’s vaccine, which began in the United States on July 27 and enrolled more than 43,000 volunteers. The final analysis from the trial found the coronavirus vaccine was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns, Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, announced this week. The submission also includes safety data on about 100 children ages 12 to 15.

About 42% of global participants and 30% of US participants in the Phase 3 study have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, the companies said in a news release, and 41% of global and 45% of US participants are ages 56 to 85. 

Another possible vaccine candidate: Moderna, another pharmaceutical company, announced Monday that early results from its clinical trials show their vaccine is 94.5% effective. The company plans to apply to the FDA for authorization after it accumulates more safety data later this month.

The FDA has scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a group of outside experts, for Dec. 8, 9 and 10, a source familiar with the process told CNN this week. The agency could make a decision at the end of the meeting on Dec. 10 about whether to issue an emergency use authorization, the source said.

Emergency use authorization, or EUA, from the FDA is not the same as full approval. An EUA allows products to be used under particular circumstances before all the evidence needed for approval is available. The agency must determine the product’s “known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.”

2:50 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Sister of 12-year-old who died of coronavirus: "If it was not for Covid, my brother would still be here"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A family is mourning the death of 12-year-old Aedan Selph, who died from coronavirus this week — and they have a message for others.

His sister, Evelyn Wolfe, explained that her father is an essential worker and unknowingly brought the virus home.

“We have medically fragile kids in the household, but this really can happen to anybody's family,” she said in an interview on CNN. “…We want everybody to know that.”

As of Sunday, both her father and Aedan were in the ICU. Her father was released earlier this week, but Aedan’s left lung collapsed on Monday, she said.

“I went into the room and held my brother's hand in his last breath,” Wolfe said. 

Her family, who lives in New Mexico, adopts children who are medically fragile. Aedan was born premature and blind, and the family adopted him and his twin sister when they were 7 months old.

“I am trying to stay off all of the media forums. I just can't handle somebody saying ‘hey, well he did have an underlying condition.’ Absolutely, he did. But it was managed. If it was not for coronavirus, if it was not for Covid, my brother would still be here,” Wolfe said. 

“What I want people to think about is yeah, you might be OK right now, but you don't know who the person next to you has at home,” she added. 

Wolfe said Aedan loved watching the Kansas City Chiefs with his dad every Sunday.

“He didn't verbalize the same as we do … His laugh was the most amazing thing. You tell him you love him, he’d just laugh at you. It was amazing,” she said.


1:58 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

UK health minister says vaccine could be out by next month

From Katya Krebs in London

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock speaks during a press conference in London on November 20.
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock speaks during a press conference in London on November 20. Trevor Adams/WPA Pool/Getty Images

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said Friday that if the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved by the UK's equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration, it could roll out by next month.

He said that the government has formally asked the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA), to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for its suitability for authorization.

"If a vaccine is approved, it will of course be available across the UK from our NHS free at the point of a delivery according to need not ability to pay," Hancock said.

He added if the vaccine will be approved, the government will be ready to start the vaccination next month with the bulk of the roll out in the new year.

Hancock also said that figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey that published on Friday are "promising and show that the second peak is flattening." However, he urged Britons to keep their resolve as there are still many patients in hospitals across the UK and 511 reported deaths as of Friday.

Hancock added it's too early to decide what happens after the national shutdown is due to end on Dec. 2.

"I am sure we will not be going back to normal after December the 2nd. Further restrictions will be required," said Professor Stephen H. Powis, England's National Health Service medical director.

According to the government data published on Friday, there are currently new 20,252 cases and 511 deaths recoded within 28 days of a positive Covid-19. The new number of cases appears to be down from 22,915 cases recorded on Thursday.

1:14 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

CVS chief medical officer says he expects vaccines to be widely available by early spring

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Troy Brennan on November 20.
Dr. Troy Brennan on November 20. CNN

CVS Health executive vice president and chief medical officer Dr. Troy Brennan said the company is preparing for the massive effort to roll out coronavirus vaccines. 

Brennan said CVS expects to have vaccinations in hand by “mid-December.” They are focusing right now on getting them to nursing homes and assisted living facilities first, in coordination with the White House’s Operation Warp Speed. 

When asked by CNN’s Kate Bolduan when the average person can go in and make an appointment for the first and second vaccine dose, Brennan said “a lot turns on what the FDA does and how quickly they act with the information.”

He expects CVS stores throughout the country to begin offering Covid-19 vaccines by the end of February or beginning of March, and they are prepared to “move rapidly,” he said.

“We have a capacity to do 20-25 million vaccinations per month in our fleet of stores alone,” he said.  

“If you take the other major retailers doing the same thing, you can see very quickly we can build numbers through the spring in terms of number of people who are vaccinated,” he added. 


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

Some testing sites in Illinois are seeing longer wait times, official says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Kevin Jaques, communications director for HRSupport, speaks during an interview on November 20.
Kevin Jaques, communications director for HRSupport, speaks during an interview on November 20. CNN

The demand has increased at all Covid-19 testing sites in Illinois, said Kevin Jaques, communications director for HRSupport, the company running the state’s Covid-19 testing project.

“Wait times usually last about an hour, [and] at some sites, up to three to four hours,” he said.

The surge first began in early October followed by another wave at the beginning of November, he added.

The goal is to test every person in line but the increase in demand affects factors like staffing and partner labs, he told CNN.

“In part, it does make people wait more in lines. It delays the testing results as well,” Jaques said Friday.

As Thanksgiving approaches, Jaques said there is also a concern that people won’t follow the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and take basic precautions like wearing masks and social distancing that help keep the number of new Covid-19 cases down.

“We're concerned that during the holidays people won't be following these guidelines as much, and in part, increasing the cases of positivity of Covid-19,” he added.

Watch Kevin Jaques interview here:

11:57 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

New York City could close indoor dining and gyms as soon as the week after Thanksgiving

From CNN's Sheena Jones

People eat at a restaurant on November 18 in New York City.
People eat at a restaurant on November 18 in New York City. John Lamparski/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated the city could move into the state's orange zone as soon as the week after Thanksgiving, the mayor said on the WNYC radio show Friday morning.

The mayor said in part, New York City would move in to the orange zoon based on state data, “soon after Thanksgiving probably the first week of December.”

What this means: The orange zone would shut down indoor dining and gyms, according to previous guidelines released by the state. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be responsible for making that decision when that time comes, according to officials. 

New York City has a 7-day-test-positivity rate of 3.02%, de Blasio said. The city reports at least 1,307 new cases of the virus, according to city spokesperson Bill Neidhardt.

At least 115 patients have been hospitalized for the virus, Neidhardt said. 

Remember: These numbers were released by the city’s health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

11:06 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Covid-19 spread is "faster" and "broader" than before, Birx says 

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during an interview on November 20.
White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during an interview on November 20. CNN

With most of the United States in the “red zone,” the country faces an increasingly dire coronavirus spread situation than before, White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

“When you look at what’s happening now, the rate of rise is dramatically different,” Birx said. “This is faster. It’s broader. And what worries me, it could be longer.”

In a public briefing by the task force Thursday — its first since July — Birx also showed a series of graphs showing the current increase in cases is sharper and steeper than at any other time during the pandemic. 

This comes as the US hits increasing numbers, including a record-setting number of cases cases on Thursday, as well as more than 2,000 deaths. Birx made clear that it’s our collective responsibility to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“I’m making the personal sacrifices not to infect my parents and my pregnant daughter,” she said. “There’s a lot of people out there who know how to protect one another. And we just need to make sure we’re all doing that.”