December 3 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:08 AM ET, Fri December 4, 2020
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5:07 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

CDC director accepts advisory committee's recommendations for who gets Covid-19 vaccine first

From CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Commissioner 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 (CDC) Commissioner 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 has accepted the Covid-19 vaccine recommendations voted on this week by the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The CDC’s vaccine advisers voted 13-1 on Tuesday to recommend that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be first in line for any coronavirus vaccines that get emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration.

“Dr. Redfield supports their recommendations and has signed the memo and accepted these interim recommendations,” the CDC said in a statement on Thursday.

In the statement, Redfield thanked the advisory committee members for their work and suggested future Covid-19 vaccine recommendations prioritize older people living in multi-generational households.

“Dr. Redfield looks forward to future recommendations that, based on vaccine availability, demonstrate that we as a Nation also prioritize the elderly (>70 yo) who reside in multi-generation households,” the statement said. “Often our Hispanic, Black and Tribal Nations families care for their elderly in multigenerational households and they are also at significant risk. This framework, in addition to the ACIP guidance, will ensure a more equitable distribution to those most at risk for hospitalizations and fatalities.”

4:48 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

California's governor announces new regional stay-at-home order based on ICU capacity 

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Pool
Pool

Millions of Californians may soon find themselves under stay home orders once again due to new restrictions announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

The new order comes as the state sees a record surge of new cases and hospitalizations that are projected to overwhelm hospitals by Christmas.

The governor’s new stay-at-home order will take hold in regions where hospitals are feeling the squeeze on capacity to treat the incoming surge of Covid-19 patients.

The strict stay-at-home order will go into effect when intensive care unit capacity drops to 15%. Under the new plan, California will be divided into five regions — Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

None of the five regions are currently under the new order, but projections show four regions will reach that threshold in the next day or two, with only the San Francisco Bay Area expected to remain open until mid-December, Newsom said at a news conference.

Newsom acknowledged that the new restrictions, which shutters many nonessential businesses and operations and prohibits most travel, will not be well-received by some, specifically small businesses, outlining several state programs designed to help. 

“It’s never enough,” he said. “I’m mindful that we must do more.”

Essential businesses can remain open, but may only allow 20% capacity. Areas that must be closed include hair salons and barbershops, bars and breweries, playgrounds, amusement parks, and indoor recreation facilities.

California’s Covid-19 crisis shows no signs of slowing as the state added 18,591 more cases Thursday, bringing the total to 1,264,539.

Surge facilities are being prepped to be brought online in 11 locations from Sacramento to San Diego, Newsom said. The state’s stockpile of personal protective equipment is full.

“We do not anticipate having to do this once again,” Newsom said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are few months away from truly seeing real progress with the vaccine. We have distribution, we have accessibility, we have availability.”

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. 

Watch here:

 

4:12 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

France plans to start vaccinating "within weeks," prime minister says

From Sandrine Amiel and Schams Elwazer

A television above empty beds at the Polyclinique Jean Villar private hospital in Bruges, France broadcasts French Prime Minister Jean Castex’s press conference outlining the country’s plans for deploying the coronavirus vaccine, on December 3.
A television above empty beds at the Polyclinique Jean Villar private hospital in Bruges, France broadcasts French Prime Minister Jean Castex’s press conference outlining the country’s plans for deploying the coronavirus vaccine, on December 3. Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

France’s coronavirus vaccination campaign will begin in “a matter of weeks” and will be free, French Prime Minister Jean Castex told a news conference on Thursday.

Care home residents and workers — an estimated one million people — will receive priority for vaccination. The second phase, starting in February 2021, will include the elderly, patients with chronic diseases and health professionals, Castex said.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is due to decide by Dec. 29 on the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines but they will also need approval from France’s health authority, Castex said. 

France has already ordered 200 million vaccines, enough to inoculate 100 million people with the necessary two doses each, Castex added.

The premier hailed the “remarkable work conducted at the European level” to negotiate the same prices for all countries in the European Union, with the number of doses determined according to each country’s population. 

Immunologist Alain Fischer has been appointed as France’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign coordinator and the vaccine strategy itself will be presented to the French parliament this month.

3:30 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Portugal plans to vaccinate nearly 1 million people starting in January

From CNN's Duarte Mendonca and Schams Elwazer

Health workers attend to patients at the Covid-19 ward of the Curry Cabral hospital in Lisbon, Portugal on November 18.
Health workers attend to patients at the Covid-19 ward of the Curry Cabral hospital in Lisbon, Portugal on November 18. Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images

Portugal plans to provide universal free vaccination against Covid-19 and hopes to vaccinate nearly a million people starting in January as part of the first phase of its vaccine rollout, health officials said on Thursday.

The first phase of vaccination will prioritize around 400,000 people who are over the age of 50 and have pre-existing conditions such as heart or lung disease or kidney failures, according to the Covid-19 task force coordinator Francisco Ramos.

Also first in line are 250,000 people living or working in care homes and intensive care unit patients, in addition to about 300,000 frontline health workers.

The second phase of vaccinations would include those 65 and over, followed by 50- to 64-year-olds with certain health problems.

Although no vaccine has formally been authorized yet, six agreements have been made with various vaccine manufacturers, including AstraZeneca, CureVac, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Sanofi-GSK, according to Rui Santos Ivo, who heads the medical regulatory body Infarmed.

Portugal expects to spend around 200 million Euros (around $243 million) on 22 million doses of the vaccine, according to Health Minister Marta Temido.

2:46 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

US surpasses 14 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Amanda Watts and Haley Brink

There have been at least 14,012,378 cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 274,648 people have died from Covid-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

It took the United States 248 days to reach 7 million Covid-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. It only took the nation 69 days to reach the second 7 million cases.

Johns Hopkins recorded the first case of coronavirus in the United States on Jan. 21.  

  • 98 days later, on April 28, the US hit 1 million cases
  • 44 days later, on June 11, the US hit 2 million cases
  • 27 days later, on July 8, the US hit 3 million cases
  • 15 days later, on July 23, the US hit 4 million cases
  • 17 days later, on Aug. 9, the US hit 5 million cases
  • 22 days later, on Aug. 31, the US hit 6 million cases
  • 25 days later, on Sept. 25, the US hit 7 million cases
  • 21 days later on Oct. 16, the US hit 8 million cases
  • 14 days later, on Oct. 30, the US hit 9 million cases
  • 9 days later, on Nov. 8, the US hit 10 million cases
  • 7 days later, on Nov. 15, the US hit 11 million cases
  • 6 days later on Nov. 21, the US hit 12 million cases
  • 6 days later, on Nov. 27, the US hit 13 million cases
  • 6 days later, on Dec. 3, the US hit 14 million cases

According to Johns Hopkins, 13 other countries in the world have reported more than 1 million total Covid-19 cases:

  • India has over 9 million total cases
  • Brazil has over 6 million total cases
  • France and Russia have over 2 million total cases
  • Spain, United Kingdom, Argentina, Italy, Colombia, Mexico, Germany, Poland and Iran all have over 1 million total cases each
12:39 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Trump says he would sign GOP Senate leader's proposed stimulus package

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump listens during a ceremony to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former football coach Lou Holtz on Thursday, December 3 in the White House.
President Donald Trump listens during a ceremony to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former football coach Lou Holtz on Thursday, December 3 in the White House. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said Thursday that he would sign the coronavirus stimulus package presented by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  

“I will, and I think we’re getting very close and I want it to happen and I believe that we’re getting very close to a deal,” he said of McConnell’s package.  

McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning "compromise is within reach" on a stimulus. 

Trump’s comments come as relief is badly needed – another 712,000 Americans filed for first time unemployment benefits last week. 

It also comes amid a worsening pandemic. Trump spoke Thursday from an Oval Office filled with dozens of attendees as he presented Lou Holtz with the Medal of Freedom.

Many of the attendees, who were tightly packed around reporters in the back of the Oval Office, did not wear masks. That included Sen. Lindsey Graham and White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

12:13 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

The UK approved a Covid-19 vaccine before the US. Here's why.

From CNN's Zamira Rahim

The UK became the first Western country to authorize a Covid-19 vaccine yesterday, marking a pivotal moment in the global fight against coronavirus.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been granted emergency authorization by British regulators, and the first doses are expected to be rolled out from early next week.

The UK leapfrogged both the European Union and the United States with this announcement.

The vaccine was granted emergency authorization in the UK by its independent regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which has played a crucial part in the process.

The MHRA began a rolling review of Pfizer and BioNTech data from October, with each "package" of data reviewed as soon as it became available. This allowed regulators to examine the data in detail before a final authorization application was submitted.

According to the MHRA, a rolling review "can be used to complete the assessment of a promising medicine or vaccine during a public health emergency in the shortest time possible."

This approach helped accelerate the authorization process, and a formal review of all the necessary information began in the UK on Nov. 23, leading to Wednesday's announcement.

"I think the advantage is that the MHRA has been undertaking a rolling review, which means that as Pfizer accumulated data on how they manufactured the vaccine ... MHRA could keep pace with that," David Salisbury, associate fellow in Chatham House's Global Health Programme, told CNN. "That has allowed the MHRA to be nimble and keep pace."

1:27 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Here's how CVS is preparing to distribute and store the coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A CVS Pharmacy sign is photographed on March 16 in Wantagh, New York.
A CVS Pharmacy sign is photographed on March 16 in Wantagh, New York. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

CVS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troy Brennan explained how the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine will actually work once one is approved.

Brennan told CNN’s Kate Bolduan that CVS is prepared to first administer vaccines to nursing facilities.

“Our plan is to be ready to go as early as December 15, waiting for the state approvals,” he said. 

On Tuesday, vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to recommend that both health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be first in line for any Covid-19 vaccine.

Brennan said vaccinations on a state-by-state basis will be “challenging,” because each state’s plan is expected to be different.  

“Some states will say just vaccinate the people in the skilled nursing facility. Some states will want us to vaccinate not only the people in the skilled nursing facilities, but the health care workers in those facilities. … We're working directly with the states now to understand sort of what the parameters are,” he said. 

Brennan also discussed the transportation and storage of the Pfizer vaccine. He said CVS will be using Pfizer’s special containers, utilizing dry ice to maintain the vaccine at very cold temperatures.

“We’re pretty comfortable that we're going to be able to store [the vaccine] for up to 20 days…simply by reloading these special containers with dry ice. So it sounds very difficult, but it turns out, from a logistic point of view, to be really quite trackable,” Brennan said. 

He said once the vaccine is available to a wider population, people will need to make an appointment to receive it at stores. CVS will make phone calls and send texts to remind people about their second doses. 

“We will keep after you to make sure you come back for that second vaccination,” he said. 

Remember: The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a panel of independent experts, will meet on Dec. 10 to review Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine candidate and make a recommendation about whether to authorize the vaccine.

A similar FDA committee meeting for Moderna's vaccine candidate is set for Dec. 17. FDA officials say their decisions on the vaccines could come days to weeks after the meetings — it depends on what questions come up.

See the interview on CNN:

11:50 a.m. ET, December 3, 2020

NYC mayor: "It's quite clear the second wave is upon us"

From CNN's Sheena Jones

NYC Media
NYC Media

The percentage of people that tested positive for Covid-19 citywide is 3.9%, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, and the seven-day rolling average, which the mayor said has really increased, stands at 5.19%.

“It’s quite clear the second wave is upon us,” de Blasio said.

At least 174 people have been admitted into the hospital for suspected cases of Covid-19 in which the mayor referred to this number as a "serious increase" and the confirmed positivity rate is 49.07%, the mayor said.

The threshold for hospitalizations is 200, which would trigger more restrictions, according to de Blasio.

The mayor added the city isn't seeing the stress that they saw on their hospitals in the spring, but the city is continuing to remain vigilant.

On a seven-day average, at least 1,962 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported, that number is above the 550 threshold, according to de Blasio.

The indicators show that “everyone needs to take maximum precautions now,” the mayor said.

Note: 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 our Covid tracker.