November 24 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Antonia Mortensen, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020
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7:38 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Florida health system is preparing to distribute Pfizer vaccine

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Lilian Abbo, chief of infection prevention and control at Jackson Health System.
Dr. Lilian Abbo, chief of infection prevention and control at Jackson Health System. CNN

Jackson Health System in Miami, Florida, is currently making preparations to receive and distribute Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, Dr. Lilian Abbo, chief of infection prevention and control at Jackson Health System, said Tuesday.

“Jackson Health System is one of five hospitals in the state and the only one in Miami who will get the vaccine in the first phase,” Abbo told CNN’s Erica Hill. “There are plans to distribute it across the other hospitals and the health systems.”

Abbo said that plans are being developed to ensure everyone who needs the vaccine will have the opportunity to take it. 

“We will be starting with health care workers, and people that are at high risk, frontline providers, following the guidelines from the health department and the state,” she said.

She added that the amount of vaccine each state will receive is still unknown.

“We have plans already in place,” Abbo said. “We have been working on this for several weeks, and that includes the refrigeration that this vaccine needs,” she added. 

Abbo added that they are educating staff about safety and potential side effects of the vaccine.

Watch:

 

4:58 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

FDA could deliberate for "days" about emergency use authorization for Covid-19 vaccine, commissioner says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn testifies at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23 in Washington, DC.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn testifies at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23 in Washington, DC. Alex Edelman/Pool/Getty Images

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said that discussions about whether to issue an emergency use authorization for a potential Covid-19 vaccine could take "days.”

Once the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meets on Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer and BioNTech’s application for an emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine, the FDA could deliberate for days on whether to issue an EUA.

"We expect it to be days, but it’s very dependent on the complexity of the data and the comments we get back from VRBPAC," Hahn said in an interview with USA Today published on Tuesday.

"There are several steps to the vaccine authorization process. First, a company must apply to the FDA. Then, the FDA must go through the application and send it to an outside review board called the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee," Hahn said. "That committee meets on Dec. 10 and will send the FDA its comments and recommendations. Only then can the FDA make a final decision on a vaccine."

4:53 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

FDA commissioner weighs in on whether employers and schools will require Covid-19 vaccinations

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Commissioner of Food and Drugs Stephen Hahn testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23.
Commissioner of Food and Drugs Stephen Hahn testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23. Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Asked whether employers or schools may require someone to get a Covid-19 vaccine issued under emergency use authorization, US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said that it's important to keep in mind the vaccine will still be investigational – and not approved.

"Institutions may require individuals to take an FDA-approved vaccine or apply for an exception. However, EUA products are still considered investigational," Hahn said in an interview with USA Today published on Tuesday.

"It’s possible that some employers or schools will have questions or concerns about an investigational product issued an Emergency Use Authorization, which is why we will be as transparent as possible about the data and information we use to make our decision," Hahn said. "This should help those organizations determine what is most appropriate for them."

5:48 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Mississippi governor says "it's clear" the state is in the middle of the second surge

From CNN's Kay Jones

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves speaks during a press conference in Jackson, Mississippi, on November 24.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves speaks during a press conference in Jackson, Mississippi, on November 24. Pool/MPB

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said today that "it's clear" the state is in the middle of its second surge of Covid-19.

He said that the state is currently seeing a seven-day average of 1,300 cases per day. Hospitalizations are also trending upward, although not at the levels of peak in August, he said. 

Dr. Thomas Dobbs of the state's health department said today that there are zero intensive care unit beds available in DeSoto County, which is in the northernmost part of the state, and just one hospital in Jackson that still has ICU beds available. 

Even if cases decline, hospitalizations will continue to rise, Reeves said. He said the state needs to continue to act.

Reeves announced that more counties throughout the state qualified for additional measures, including a mask mandate. He is adding 19 more counties to the state's mask mandate. This means that half of the state's counties under the additional restrictions. 

While four of the original counties do not currently meet the criteria to stay under the restrictions, Reeves said that the data shows that there is a small margin, and he has made the decision to keep the restrictions in place for another week. 

"With certainty, social gatherings in and around Halloween has helped contribute to where we find ourselves today," Reeves said. He said that is really when this second wave began. 

What the numbers look like: The state is reporting 665 new cases today, but Dobbs said that the reporting from some of the electronic labs has not fully updated yet and the numbers will increase. The total number of cases in Mississippi is now at 144,544.

Mississippi now has a total of 3,729 deaths, with 54 new deaths reported today. Dobbs said, for perspective, there are 18% more deaths throughout the state this year than a normal year. 

Note: These numbers were released by the state's public 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.   

4:32 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Here are the latest coronavirus case numbers from Michigan

From CNN's Laura Dolan

Registered nurse Erica Fairfield, right, works at the Hackley Community Care COVID-19 curbside testing site in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, on November 13. 
Registered nurse Erica Fairfield, right, works at the Hackley Community Care COVID-19 curbside testing site in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, on November 13.  Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press/AP

Michigan announced 6,290 new Covid-19 cases Tuesday afternoon, down considerably from last Friday’s record high of 9,779 cases.

The state also reported 145 deaths. The high number of deaths did include 51 "identified during a Vital Records review," according to Michigan's official dashboard.

A statement on the state's website said that the new count was part of a regular tri-weekly review by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services staff.

Michigan's total confirmed cases now stand at 320,506, with a total of 8,688 deaths.

Note: These numbers were released by Michigan’s public 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.

4:25 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

The Trump administration is considering shortening the recommended quarantine time for Covid-19

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary For Health Department of Health and Human Services, speaks during a hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on September 16.
Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary For Health Department of Health and Human Services, speaks during a hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on September 16. Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump’s coronavirus task force is reviewing evidence about how long people need to quarantine to be safe amid Covid-19, according to Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir.

Giroir said at a news conference Tuesday held by the US Department of Health and Human Services that there is starting to be a “preponderance of evidence” that a shorter quarantine, complemented by a test, may be enough to slow the spread of Covid-19, and that a 14-day quarantine may no longer be necessary. He did not say specifically what shorter time period is being considered.

“We are actively working on that type of guidance right now, reviewing the evidence, but we want to make absolutely sure,” Giroir said. “Again, these kinds of recommendations aren't willy-nilly. They’re worked on with a variety of experts.”

A spokesperson with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency is "always reviewing its guidance and recommendations in the light of new understandings of the virus that causes COVID-19, and will announce such changes when appropriate.”

3:53 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

CDC director relying on Covid School Dashboard for advice on closing schools

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House on November 19 in Washington, DC.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House on November 19 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield is relying on a data tracker called the Covid-19 School Response Dashboard to back up his recommendations to keep kids in school as much as possible, a CDC spokesperson said Tuesday.

The tracker is the brainchild of Brown University economist Emily Oster. It shows data on more than 8.9 million students, including four million attending in person. It currently shows a daily coronavirus case rate of 17 per 100,000 students – far below a 1% rate. Staff case rates are at 27 per 100,000, according to the dashboard.

"Dr. Redfield believes school can be one of the safest places for K-12 youth during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that the risk of closing K-12 schools outweighs the risks of keeping them open," the spokesperson told CNN.
"Beyond helping ensure educational advancement, K-12 schools offer nutrition, mental health, socialization, and other services and experiences that are critical for our nation’s youth," they added.

Last week, Redfield told a White House coronavirus task force briefing that there was "extensive data" showing children can attend K through 12 schools in person safely. But he did not give details on what that data was.

"Dr. Redfield was referring to early evidence from an ongoing Brown University analysis – as well as observational reports that CDC has received from school districts across the country – that suggests Covid-19 is not spreading at high levels inside of K-12 schools during instruction," the CDC spokesperson said.
"Some extracurricular activities might pose an increased risk of transmission, particularly if physical distance is not maintained and face masks are not worn. CDC will also be analyzing data on school transmission and will release its findings when they are available."

The Covid-19 School Response Dashboard is supported by Brown but also by the School Superintendents Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Software company Qualtrics manages the website and data.

"Dr. Redfield encourages communities to make decisions about in-person learning based upon transmission levels in the community and also within schools’ educational settings, which can be much lower than transmission levels within a community," the spokesperson added.

3:46 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Florida reports more than 8,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

Vehicles line up as healthcare workers help to check-in people being tested at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on November 22.
Vehicles line up as healthcare workers help to check-in people being tested at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on November 22. David Santiago/Miami Herald/AP

Florida reported 8,555 new cases of coronavirus and 72 new deaths on Tuesday.

The state has reported 953,300 cases since the start of the pandemic and 18,157 deaths among Florida residents.

Note: These numbers were released by the state’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.

3:42 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Majority of Covid-19 spread being driven by asymptomatic people in household gatherings, CDC director says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The majority of coronavirus spread in the US is being driven by people without symptoms in household gatherings, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday.

“The real driver of this epidemic now is not the public square,” Redfield said in an interview with Fox News. “It really is driven by the silent epidemic — the asymptomatic infections largely in individuals between the ages of say 12 and 35.”

He added that transmission is occurring when people take off their masks and gather in homes, where they feel safe. He noted that transmission patterns are now very different from those seen in the spring in major metropolitan areas.

“Who would ever think rural North Dakota would be in the red zone?” Redfield said. “It's all in the red zone. It's really being driven by household gatherings.”