November 27 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 2:08 a.m. ET, November 28, 2020
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11:19 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

FDA intends to make vaccine authorization decision within a few weeks after Dec. 10 meeting

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine vials are seen in this handout photo provided by the company.
Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine vials are seen in this handout photo provided by the company. Pfizer

The US Food and Drug Administration intends to make a decision about authorizing Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine within a few weeks of a key meeting scheduled for Dec. 10, according to an agency official. 

"It will be a matter of weeks. It could be from days to weeks,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said Wednesday. "It's possible it could be within days, but our goal is to make sure it's certainly within a few weeks.”

“I can't give you an exact date that we're going to have an emergency use authorization issued because we have to do it right. Obviously we're going to be working to do it as quickly as we possibly can," Marks added during the event sponsored by the group Vaccinate Your Family.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a panel of independent experts, is scheduled to meet December 10 to discuss Pfizer’s application for emergency use authorization.

So far, Pfizer is the only company to apply for an EUA from the FDA. The submission to the FDA was 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 BioNTech said.

The vaccine cannot be shipped until the FDA issues an EUA, according to a presentation by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marks’s timeline varies from one offered Thursday by President Trump.

“The vaccines are being delivered literally – they’ll start in the next week or the week after,” Trump said in a virtual Thanksgiving address to US troops.

Vaccinations will begin in the US "towards the latter part of December,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

11:24 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

How to survive economic uncertainty as pandemic benefits are set to expire

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Residents line up in their cars at a food distribution site at Lake-Sumter State College sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and local churches on November 21.
Residents line up in their cars at a food distribution site at Lake-Sumter State College sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and local churches on November 21. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

With 12 million Americans at risk of losing pandemic unemployment benefits right after Christmas, personal finance columnist Jean Chatzky says “there is a lot of trouble coming down the road.”

Here are three tips on how to make it through economic uncertainty:

  1. Get a survival job: It’s not time to focus on your larger career right now if you are out of work right now, according to Chatzky. There are seasonal, delivery and fulfillment center jobs available during the holidays. “Just get something to tide you through and continue to bring money in as these unemployment benefits start to lapse,” she said.
  2. Consider a coronavirus hardship loan and tap into state and local resources: 80% of credit unions, plus some banks, are offering Covid-19 hardship loans, Chatzky said, which may be a good option as a smaller loan to just get through a tough time. “There is money out there in the form of emergency grants,” she said. “Google your state or your locality and the words ‘emergency grants.’ Or if it's a matter of putting food on the table, pick up the phone, call 211 or go to to find out about the programs in your area.”
  3. Pull money from your 401 (k: “Provisions in the CARES Act have made it better at this point to pull money out than to borrow in many cases, which I know you never expected to hear me say ever,” Chatzky said. “But you can repay the money inside of three years and then you won't be charged penalties or interest.” She said it is something to look into if “you are at the end of your financial rope.”


11:33 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Covid-19 cases rising in NYC, but are still manageable, hospitals say

From CNN's Sonia Moghe

Medical workers are seen inside the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on November 11.
Medical workers are seen inside the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on November 11. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Two hospital systems gave Thanksgiving updates on their coronavirus caseloads, both saying that cases are rising in their hospitals but expressing confidence in their ability to deal with the increasing case load.

One hospital system said, the situation now is “nothing approaching what we experienced in March,” and another system echoing that saying they are “well within our ability to handle." 

Mt. Sinai healthcare system’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Vicki LoPachin, said in a note Wednesday, that coronavirus cases continue to rise across the Mt. Sinai health system but that the current number of cases “is still within our projections, and well within our ability to handle.”

 “Our COVID-19 inpatient census remains at less than 10 percent of what we saw at the peak in the spring,” LoPachin said. “And we do not believe we will ever see anything close to those prior numbers.”

Dr. Craig Smith, chair of the department of surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, which is also affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian’s hospital system, said in a message Thursday that the new Covid-19 case curve is “unequivocally positive” but nothing approaching “what we experienced in March.”

Smith’s candid updates during the heat of the coronavirus crisis in New York gained a large following in the spring. 

Smith said NYP and CU have a “meticulous plan” for staffing changes if the surge in cases increases quickly, and that at this time, the systems are not close to a level where non-urgent surgeries would need to be canceled in order to deal with an influx of cases.

Smith also said the institutions are in the process of planning “thorough plans” for vaccine distribution.

On Wednesday morning, the system had 157 Covid-19-positive patients admitted to their hospitals, 25 of whom were in critical care.

LoPachin warned Mt. Sinai healthcare workers to “relax, recharge and prepare for the work ahead” as coronavirus case numbers are expected to increase, as some ignore warnings against gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We know that many people will ignore the warnings and gather unsafely with their families tomorrow, and that the patients with new COVID-19 infections resulting from those gatherings will arrive in our hospitals in the next few weeks,” LoPachin said. “Your family needs you, your colleagues need you, and your patients need you, now more than ever.”

12:32 p.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Dozens of Covid-19 infections tied to basketball youth tournament in California

From CNN's Stella Chan

Courtside Basketball Center in Rocklin, California.
Courtside Basketball Center in Rocklin, California. KCRA

More than two dozen people from at least three California counties are infected with Covid-19 after participating in youth basketball tournaments in the city of Rocklin earlier this month, according to Placer County Health officials. 

The health department urges anyone who was at Courtside Basketball Center on Nov. 7 or Nov. 8 to quarantine and seek testing regardless of symptoms. They said residents should avoid participating in all indoor activities at the facility and did not identify the other two counties tied to the tournaments.

The county is in the state’s most restrictive purple tier of the state’s four level color-coded system and only outdoor operations are allowed.

The weekend of the tournaments, Placer County was in the orange tier indicating moderate spread level. Gyms and fitness centers can be open for indoor operations with modifications and a 25% maximum capacity, according to state guidelines.

“The cases of COVID-19 associated with Courtside Basketball Center are a reminder that contact sports facilitate the spread of coronavirus and illustrate why tournaments are not allowed,” said the health department release.

“This Health Alert is being issued because of the large scale of the apparent outbreak and potential range that make contact tracing difficult. In addition, the facility has refused to cease indoor operations and continues to host tournaments despite being advised such operations are not allowed and the full knowledge that COVID-19 cases have been associated with activities at the facility," the release continued.

The basketball center is hosting a Thanksgiving camp that continues today, according to information on the company’s website.

 CNN is requesting comment from Courtside Basketball Center.

10:30 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

NYC mayor warns city can't "let up the fight" this weekend as new cases continue to exceed threshold 

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City continues to surpass its new cases threshold limit, adding 1,522 Covid-19 cases, according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The city set threshold is 550 cases.

The city also reported 114 patients admitted to the hospital, which remains under the city set threshold of 200.

The city’s infection rate on a seven-day average is 3.33%, he tweeted Friday.

“We CANNOT let up the fight this weekend, New York City,” de Blasio tweeted.

The mayor urged residents to wear a mask, get tested and "help us push back this second wave.”

See the mayor's tweet:

10:56 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

NFL's Denver Broncos cancel practice and close facility after positive Covid-19 tests

From CNN’s Dan Kamal

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The NFL’s Denver Broncos confirmed in a statement Friday that a player and two staffers have tested positive for Covid-19.

The team has canceled practice and closed its facility and will continue preparations for Sunday’s game virtually.

In the statement, the team indicated it is working closely with medical experts and the league office and “will take all steps necessary to ensure the well-being of the players, coaches and staff.”

The 4-6 Broncos are scheduled to host the 8-2 New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

10:02 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations are decreasing in El Paso, according to health officials

From CNN's Kay Jones, Raja Razek and Hollie Silverman

Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 in El Paso, Texas, are decreasing, according to health officials, with the lowest number of patients hospitalized since October. 

The El Paso City and County Health Department reports that 907 patients are currently hospitalized due to the virus, down from a peak of 1,148 on Nov. 11. It's also the lowest number of hospitalizations since Oct. 28, when 908 patients were in hospitals due to Covid-19 

There is just one confirmed death reported on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths to 919. The El Paso dashboard shows that 529 deaths are currently under investigation. 

El Paso is reporting 678 new cases on Friday, bringing the total to 84,683. The dashboard shows that 37,058 of those cases are currently active. 

El Paso County ordered a new curfew starting Thanksgiving eve as the area continued to grapple with rising Covid-19 cases. The curfew took effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and will run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. until November 30, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

Note: These numbers were released by the El Paso City/County 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.  

10:04 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

Thanksgiving TSA airport screenings down 65% from last year

From CNN’s Pete Muntean

Travelers wearing face masks line up for security checks at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Nov. 25, 2020. 
Travelers wearing face masks line up for security checks at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Nov. 25, 2020.  Joel Lerner/Xinhua/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration says it screened 560,902 people at airports on Thursday, according to a verified tweet from Lisa Farbstein, a Transportation Security Administration spokesperson.

Thanksgiving is typically a light travel day, but Thursday’s number is 65% lower than last year.

At least 1,591,158 people were screened by TSA last Thanksgiving.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last week that Americans should not travel for Thanksgiving, and posted updated guidelines for safely celebrating the holiday.

10:06 a.m. ET, November 27, 2020

North Korean hackers suspected of targeting vaccine maker AstraZeneca in cyberattack, according to Reuters

From CNN’s Nada Bashir, Chris Liakos, Yoonjung Seo, Sophie Jeong and Angus Watson

A volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. 
A volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England.  John Cairns/University of Oxford/AP

North Korean hackers are suspected to have carried out a cyberattack against British coronavirus vaccine developer AstraZeneca in recent weeks, Reuters revealed Friday citing two unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter. 

According to Reuters, North Korean hackers posed as recruiters on networking site LinkedIn and WhatsApp in order to approach AstraZeneca staff — including those working on coronavirus research — with fake job offers.

The suspected hackers then sent documents – some using Russian email addresses – purporting to be job descriptions that were in fact laced with malicious code designed to give the hackers access to the victim’s computers, Reuters reported. 

According to Reuters’ sources, the hackers are not thought to have been successful. 

While AstraZeneca has declined to comment on the matter, the University of Oxford — which is working in conjunction with the drugmaker to develop a coronavirus vaccine — told CNN in a statement that the university is working closely with the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to ensure its protection.

“Oxford University is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre to ensure our COVID-19 research has the best possible cyber security and protection,” a university spokesperson told CNN. 

 The NCSC has not directly commented on the matter, but told CNN on Friday that it is “committed to protecting our most critical assets, the health sector, and crucial vaccine research and development against threats.”

CNN has reached out to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva for an official comment, however has yet to receive a response. 

In a telephone conversation with CNN, a member of staff at the mission said the Reuters report is “fake news,” alleging that the information has been “fabricated.” 

The reporting comes after a South Korean lawmaker said the country had also thwarted North Korean attempts to hack its own pharmaceutical companies working on coronavirus vaccines. 

Speaking on Friday, lawmaker Ha Tae-Keung did not say when the hacking occurred or which drug companies were targeted, but confirmed North Korea has made attempts to hack South Korean pharmaceutical companies that are developing local vaccines for the coronavirus.

CNN International Correspondent David Culver reports: