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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9:57 p.m. ET, November 22, 2020

White House vaccine chief says first Americans could be vaccinated next month

From CNN's Naomi Thomas and Rachel Janfaza

President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 15.
President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 15. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine -- if all things go according to plan -- could be as early as the second week of December.

"Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe on day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the State Departments of Health will have told us where to deliver the vaccine," Slaoui told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" Sunday.

On Friday, Pfizer submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, and an FDA vaccine advisory committee is slated to meet December 10.

Slaoui said that means, if authorized, the vaccine could be rolled out the next day.

Slaoui also said that based on plans, the amount of the population who need to be vaccinated for life to return to normal is likely to happen in May.

How to achieve herd immunity: Slaoui told Tapper that with the level of efficacy that has been shown in both Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines, "70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place, that is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May, or something like that based on our plans."

Following Slaoui's comments on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told CBS' Margaret Brennan on "Face The Nation," that while he "totally agree(s)" with Slaoui that there could be herd immunity by May, it would require that a majority of the country be vaccinated.

"If you have a highly efficacious vaccine, and only a relatively small 40, 50% of the people get vaccinated, you're not going to get the herd immunity you need," Fauci said. "What we do need is we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated."

A new Gallup poll found that 58% of Americans said they would get vaccinated against the coronavirus if there was an FDA-approved vaccine available right now at no cost.

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9:30 p.m. ET, November 22, 2020

Millions traveling for Thanksgiving despite surging Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Marnie Hunter

A traveler approaches the AirTrain to JKF International Airport in New York, on November 20.
A traveler approaches the AirTrain to JKF International Airport in New York, on November 20. Frank Franklin II/AP

Thanksgiving travel is surging as new coronavirus cases approach 200,000 a day in the United States.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance on Thursday urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving. But millions of people are still planning to travel over the holiday week.

On Friday, the number of travelers screened at US airport security checkpoints topped 1 million for only the second time since March, according to Transportation Security Administration figures. That's still just 40% of the volume screened on the Friday before Thanksgiving a year ago.

Many weary Americans eager to join family and friends for Thanksgiving face another risk calculation as they weigh scrapping travel plans at the last minute or going ahead as Covid-19 cases surge.

Gail Duilio, a retired public health nurse in Portland, Oregon, has canceled her flight to Minnesota for the holiday and her mother's 93rd birthday.

"When making the arrangements a month ago, I felt the risks vs. benefits weighed on the side of going," she told CNN. This week, the risks tipped the scales in the other direction for her.

Travel organization AAA has said that it expects at least a 10% drop in travel this Thanksgiving because of spiking coronavirus cases, shifting travel restrictions and calls by health and government officials for people to stay home.

AAA forecasts nearly 48 million travelers will drive to their destinations -- representing a 4.3% drop from last year in the number of people traveling by car over the holiday period, which AAA defines as Wednesday to Sunday.

Air travel is expected to see its largest one-year decrease on record for Thanksgiving, a nearly 48% drop, with just 2.4 million travelers expected to fly, according to the organization.

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