November 23 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020
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9:14 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Air travel surges in the US ahead of Thanksgiving holiday despite CDC warning

From CNN's Pete Muntean 

Travelers walk in Florida's Miami International Airport on November 22.
Travelers walk in Florida's Miami International Airport on November 22. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Passengers just broke a pandemic air travel record, in spite of the CDC’s warning to not travel for Thanksgiving. 

TSA says 1,047,934 people passed through security at America’s airports on Sunday— the second time since Friday that more than a million people flew. 

The previous pandemic record was set back on Oct.18, the Sunday of the long Columbus Day weekend.

Last week, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said that he expected travel levels to be on par with that record, noting that he expected the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after to be the busiest for air travel.

In spite of the CDC urging people to not travel for Thanksgiving, airlines insist that flying is safe.

On Friday, airline industry groups told reporters that the industry is not encouraging people to travel, but they are not discouraging them either. 

8:23 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Chile to allow foreign visitors to fly into Santiago after eight-month shutdown

From CNN's Mitchell McCluskey

Travelers in the check-in area of Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago, Chile, on November 13.
Travelers in the check-in area of Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago, Chile, on November 13. Esteban Felix/AP

Chile will allow foreign visitors to enter the country through Santiago's international airport from Monday after an eight-month shutdown, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced Sunday.

The reopening is the first phase in a plan to gradually reopen the country and will eventually extend to land and sea entry points, Pinera said.

"These important advancements that improve the quality of life of all Chileans should not in any way mean a weakening in the personal care that we should adopt, such as frequent hand washing, the use of masks and social distancing, nor a weakening in the strict compliance with the sanitary regulations established by the authorities,” Pinera said in a news conference at the Chilean capital's Arturo Merino Benítez Airport.

Visitors must provide three documents in order to enter:

  • Negative result from a Covid-19 test taken 72 hours prior to departure
  • Health insurance policy with coverage for Covid-19 and related health issues
  • “Affidavit of Travelers” electronic form, providing personal and health information

From Monday until December 7, visitors to Chile from countries classified high-risk by the World Health Organization, including the United States, will have to quarantine for 14 days. After December 7, they will only have to provide the required documents in order to enter.

Chile currently has 540,640 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 15,069 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country has set a daily nationwide curfew from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.

8:09 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Two Kansas City Fire employees die of coronavirus, in "worst-case scenario" for first responders

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

The fire department in Kansas City, Missouri, lost two employees to Covid-19 in two days, a devastating development its chief called "the worst-case scenario."

Captain Robert "Bobby" Rocha and Scott Davidson, a communication specialist and paramedic, had been in the hospital "for a while" before succumbing to the virus, Fire Chief Donna Lake said.

"All of us standing here ... were close personal friends with the people we lost," the chief said Sunday during a news conference. "They're all tenured employees, so we grew up together on this department. We work together, we fight together, we live together, we eat together, we do everything like families do at work."

Lake joined health experts and officials who called for the public to follow distancing measures, mask requirements and hand washing practices as the US grapples with the most intense spread of the virus to date. 

With first responders interacting daily with people who may be infected, following those measures helps protect professionals on the front lines, Lake said.

"When September 11 happened, first responders were on the front line then," she said. "In this pandemic, we're on the front line."

Read the full story here:

7:58 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Man wearing Trump gear seen deliberately exhaling on women outside President's golf club is charged

From CNN's Mary Kay Mallonee and Jason Hoffman

A man wearing a Trump shirt and an inflatable Trump inner-tube around his belly who was seen on video deliberately exhaling on two women outside the President's golf course in Virginia has been charged with simple assault.

Raymond Deskins, 61, of Sterling, Virginia, was charged with misdemeanor simple assault, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

The background: One of the women shot cellphone video of Saturday's incident outside Donald Trump's club in Sterling and posted it on social media.

Michele Bowman, public information officer for the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, confirmed to CNN that Deskins is the man seen in the video.

CNN has been unable to reach Deskins despite multiple attempts.

In the 24-second video, Deskins -- who was not wearing a mask -- can be seen in a verbal confrontation with the women who were there protesting Trump. It is not apparent what happened before the video began.

Read the full story here:

8:06 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Qantas to require vaccinations for international flights

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney

A Qantas plane takes off at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport in Australia on November 16.
A Qantas plane takes off at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport in Australia on November 16. James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Australia’s national carrier Qantas will require international travelers to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 before flying, Alan Joyce, the airline's CEO, said Monday.

Speaking to CNN affiliate Channel 9, Joyce said the carrier’s terms and conditions would be updated to advise of the necessity to be vaccinated. 

“We will ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft," Joyce said. "Certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that's a necessity."

Joyce said that he expected other airlines to follow suit. “I think it will be a common theme, talking to my colleagues in other airlines across the world,” he said.

“What we’re looking at is how you can have a vaccination passport, an electronic version of it that certifies what the vaccine is and whether it’s acceptable to the country you’re traveling to.”

7:30 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

UNICEF organizing "mammoth operation" to deliver vaccines

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is planning a "mammoth operation" to deliver coronavirus vaccines to more than 90 low- and middle-income countries as soon as doses are available, it said on Monday.

UNICEF is working with more than 350 logistics partners, including major airlines, shipping lines and freight operators globally "to deliver life-saving vaccines as quickly and safely as possible," said Etleva Kadilli, director of the agency's supply division.

“This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation. We need all hands on deck as we get ready to deliver COVID-19 vaccine doses, syringes and more personal protective equipment to protect front line workers around the globe,” she added.

UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week briefed airlines last week on the expected requirements and how almost 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be transported next year. A further 1 billion syringes will be transported by sea. 

“The procurement, delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is anticipated to be the largest and fastest such operation ever undertaken,” it said. 

The agency is the biggest single vaccine buyer in the world, obtaining more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunization and outbreak response in almost 100 countries. It said it has vital expertise in supply chain management of temperature-controlled products like the coronavirus vaccines.

It is leading efforts to procure and deliver vaccines from manufacturers that have agreements with the COVAX Facility, it said.

UNICEF has worked with logistics operators to transport supplies during the pandemic, delivering more than $190 million worth of supplies such as masks, gowns, oxygen concentrators and diagnostic test kits.

7:55 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

UK regulator will make decision on Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in "shortest time possible"

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Lauren Kent

The first patient enrolled in Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial is pictured on May 4 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
The first patient enrolled in Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial is pictured on May 4 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. University of Maryland School of Medicine/AP

The UK medicine regulator said on Monday that it will make a decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the "shortest time possible" now it has received further data.

"It is our job now to rigorously assess these data and the evidence submitted on the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness," the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) chief executive June Raine said in a statement.

"As we have received this data through a rolling review, we have already started our analysis and will aim to make a decision in the shortest time possible, without compromising the thoroughness of our review," Raine added.

She said that the MHRA "will seek advice from the Government’s independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines. The Commission will critically assess the data too before advising the UK government on the safety, quality and effectiveness of any potential vaccine."

"The safety of the public will always come first. Our job is to work to the highest standards and safety is our watchword."

It comes as AstraZeneca/Oxford announced that another experimental coronavirus vaccine showed an average efficacy of 70% in large-scale trials and up to a 90% efficacy in one dosing regimen.

The UK government has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

6:38 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

France culls 1,000 mink after detecting coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

French authorities detected a Covid-19 outbreak on a mink farm in northern France and have subsequently culled all 1,000 animals on the premises, according to a government news release.

The other three mink farms in the country are also being tested, said the release from the French Agricultural Ministry. One mink farm has tested negative already, and two mink farm results are still outstanding. 

“Reinforced surveillance has been put in place for four people in connection with the contaminated farm and new analysis are underway,” the Agricultural Ministry said of the mink farm in question, which is in the Eure-et-Loir department. 

“Surveillance and enhanced biosecurity measures are maintained in the other three farms,” said the release.

6:23 a.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Hospitalizations and cases soar in the US, as it starts one of the busiest travel weeks of the year

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A health care worker administers a Covid-19 swab test on November 13 in El Paso, Texas.
A health care worker administers a Covid-19 swab test on November 13 in El Paso, Texas. Mario Tama/Getty Images

From surging case numbers to record hospitalizations, the US is grappling with what experts long warned could be the biggest spike in the Covid-19 pandemic -- and it still has to get through the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Historically, the week of Thanksgiving is one of the busiest for travel. But with the US reporting its 20th day in a row of more than 100,000 new cases Sunday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against traveling for the holiday this year to decrease risk of spreading infections. 

As new cases spike, hospitalization rates have followed. At least 83,870 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized Sunday -- the 13th straight day the US has broken its hospitalization record, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Still, more than a million people passed through airports on Friday alone, according to the Transportation Security Administration. 

While people board airplanes and load cars to visit family, the US has reported a million infections in under a week. Since the pandemic began, more than 12.2 million people have been infected and 256,783 people have died of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Health experts have long worried that the colder months could drive people indoors, leading to a rise in infection rates. On Friday, the CDC said that 50% of cases are spread by people without symptoms. With just one infected person having the potential to cause an outbreak, experts worry that people traveling and gathering could prove dangerous to the American public that is still in the thick of the pandemic. 

Read the full story here: