December 4 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Emma Reynolds, Hannah Strange, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, December 5, 2020
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7:46 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Mask use can reduce the number of new Covid-19 infections by close to 50%, study finds

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Mandatory mask usage in parts of Germany last spring helped significantly reduce the number of new Covid-19 infections, a team of German researchers reported in a new analysis.

The team used public data on coronavirus cases to compare regions with and without mandatory mask policies last April.

“Depending on the region we consider, we find that face masks reduced the number of newly registered severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infections between 15% and 75% over a period of 20 days after their mandatory introduction,” researchers wrote. “Assessing the credibility of the various estimates, we conclude that face masks reduce the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 47%.”

The study, which was published Thursday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that certain age groups benefited more from mask usage.

The researchers looked at data from mask use in Jena, a city in central Germany, after a mandatory mask policy took effect between April 1-10. 

They compared Jena’s mandatory mask policy with a control group, a similar city that experienced comparable growth in coronavirus cases before the mandatory mask policy in Jena.

They found a “significant difference” in Covid-19 case reductions in Jena.

“Our findings indicate that the early introduction of face masks in Jena has resulted in a drop in newly registered COVID-19 cases of around 75% after 20 days,” the team reported.

“Put simply, if the control region observes 100 new infections over a period of 20 days, the mask region observes only 25 cases,” they wrote.

“This drop is greatest, by more than 90%, for the age group 60 years and above.”

The study also concluded that, given the low cost compared to other public health measures, masks are a cost-effective way to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The analysis did not look at the different types of face masks and whether that could have affected the conclusion. 

Previous studies on the use of face masks in public have also they reduce the spread of Covid -19. 

7:13 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

New Jersey governor says the state doesn't have the funds to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine

From Sahar Akbarzai

In this Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during his 2021 budget address at SHI Stadium at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.
In this Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during his 2021 budget address at SHI Stadium at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the state doesn’t have the money to distribute millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

In order to do so, there needs to be a robust federal partnership and funding from the Trump administration and the incoming Biden administration to make distribution possible, Murphy told CNN.

“The complexity of the distribution that’s still ahead of us cannot be underestimated…and the expense associated with it can’t be underestimated,” Murphy said.

The governor said that the recent surge in the state is because of “a combination of pandemic fatigue, private setting transmission, cold weather ... Holidays stacked up one after the other."

"I also think there is some amount of, the vaccine is coming and it's going to work I can let my hair down, it's only a few months. I read it the exact opposite way. Hang in there and keep your guard up, it's only a few months and I think that's what we are up against," he said.

“It’s bad and I fear it’s going to get worse, the next couple of months is going to be really, really tough,” Murphy added.  

6:14 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Florida hospital preparing to vaccinate employees using phased approach

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Davis Wein, an emergency medicine specialist walks, in the parking garage that was turned into a series of Covid-19 test tents at Tampa General Hospital in Florida on August 19.
Dr. Davis Wein, an emergency medicine specialist walks, in the parking garage that was turned into a series of Covid-19 test tents at Tampa General Hospital in Florida on August 19. Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Tampa General Hospital in Florida is preparing to vaccinate its staff with Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine using a phased approach, according to Tampa General Hospital spokesperson Phil Buck.

The hospital is expecting its first shipment of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on or before Dec. 15, if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes it. Buck said the hospital is one of five in Florida that will participate in the state’s Covid-19 vaccine pilot program.

Tampa General Hospital has acquired several large ultra-cold freezers to store the vaccine. They can hold about 30,000 doses each.

The hospital will vaccinate staff based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the number of doses it receives.

5:50 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Advisory committee does not recommend emergency authorization for Covid-19 vaccine in children

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) voted Friday to not recommend issuing emergency use authorization for administering a Covid-19 vaccine in children.

“NVAC will warn against issuing an EUA for Covid-19 vaccines in children, considering that children experience generally mild disease,” the committee wrote in its recommendation.  

The committee, which advises the Health and Human Services Department on the best ways to adequately provide vaccines, also voted on a series of recommendations responding to questions posed by Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir regarding Covid-19 vaccine safety and surveillance.

NVAC recommended that vaccine developers begin including pregnant women in Phase 2 of its trials.

The US Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer’s application for an EUA for its coronavirus vaccine. The FDA can attach restrictions to any EUA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then decides who receives the vaccine.

4:39 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

San Francisco Bay Area issues stay-at-home order for nearly 6 million people

From CNN’s Alexandra Meeks

A healthcare worker administers a nasal swab test at a Covid-19 testing site in San Francisco on Tuesday, December 1.
A healthcare worker administers a nasal swab test at a Covid-19 testing site in San Francisco on Tuesday, December 1. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Six San Francisco Bay Area jurisdictions issued a stay-at-home order Friday ahead of the governor’s statewide mandate, restricting activities and limiting capacity at businesses in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19 as hospitals and intensive care units see a surge of patients.

The regional order applies to the Northern California counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley. The order, which will affect more than 5.8 million people, speeds up the timeline of the statewide regional stay-at-home order announced Thursday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Under the new local health orders, businesses will be required to further reduce occupancy to 20%, and will be required to write and enforce plans to ensure proper face coverings and maximum capacity rules are followed. Restaurants must close outdoor operations and convert to takeout and delivery only. Hair cutting and nail cutting services have also been ordered to close, officials said.

The new health orders will go into effect Dec. 6 and will remain in effect until Jan. 4, Contra Costa Health Director Chris Farnitano said.

"I don't think we can wait for the state's new restrictions go into effect later this month," Farnitano said. "We must act swiftly to save as many lives as we can. This is an emergency."

The Bay Area was projected to be the last region in the state to be subject to the governor’s stay-at-home order, predicted to surpass the threshold by mid to late December. But Friday’s decision means the region will instead be the first.

4:26 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

US surgeon general expects a rise in Covid-19 cases over Christmas

From CNN’s Leanna Faulk

 

Surgeon General Jerome Adams appears before a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on September 9 in Washington D.C.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams appears before a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on September 9 in Washington D.C. Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said he expects to see a rise in positive Covid-19 cases during the Christmas holiday.

“The measures people take now will help determine how long this surge lasts and how big it gets,” Adams told Fox News’ John Roberts on Friday. “We also expect to see another bump over Christmas.”

Adams said he is concerned about the increase in gatherings during the holiday season. 

“One of the problems we're seeing especially in the holiday season is that people are standing in lines at malls, they're outside at ice skating rinks, they're congregating together – and they're feeling like they're safe because they're outside. But they're still too close,” Adams said. “We want to protect ourselves as much as we can.”

Adams encouraged Americans to celebrate safely, with immediate members of their household, and limit travel as much as possible.

“Find out how to do it safely because the actions we take now will determine how many people make it with us to this finish line that is so close,” he said.  

As the country anticipates the authorization and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine, Adams is encouraging everyone – particularly leaders – to continue following public health measures such as wearing a mask and social distancing.

“More people than ever are doing the right thing,” he said. “We just need to hang on a little bit longer.” 

He added: “To all the leaders out there, we need to lead by example over the next couple of weeks and really help people get over the finish line because, again, it's in sight.”

4:00 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

"We've got a lot of work to do" on vaccine distribution, Biden says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden said “there's a lot more that has to be done” when it comes to distributing any possible coronavirus vaccine. 

The Trump administration has “clued us in on their planning on how they plan to distribute the vaccine to the various states,” Biden said. “But there is no detailed plan that we've seen, anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe into somebody's arm. It's going to be very difficult for that to be done and it's a very expensive proposition.”

Biden said he agrees with prioritizing first-responders, nursing home residents and health care workers, but there also “has to be some equity in the way this is distributed.”

Biden called Covid-19’s effects on Black and Latino populations a “mass casualty event.”

He said delivering the vaccine to “major drug chains does not get you into a lot of these neighborhoods, and it doesn't guarantee that it gets around, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Watch here:

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

CDC: Masks are critical to stopping coronavirus spread — sometimes, even at home

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A woman walks past a shop selling masks in Edinburgh, Scotland on September 22.
A woman walks past a shop selling masks in Edinburgh, Scotland on September 22. Jane Barlow/PA Images /Getty Images

Masks are “critical” in controlling the spread of coronavirus — and that includes at home sometimes, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

A CDC review of what works makes it clear that mask use, physical distancing, avoiding crowds and washing hands all could help control the spread of the virus – and would allow kids to go back to school and businesses to reopen.

“Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy critical to reducing respiratory transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in light of estimates that approximately one half of new infections are transmitted by persons who have no symptoms,” the CDC summary of guidance reads.

The CDC has gradually been strengthening its recommendations on mask use. “Compelling evidence now supports the benefits of cloth face masks for both source control (to protect others) and, to a lesser extent, protection of the wearer,” the team wrote.

Masks work so well that certain communities should consider giving them out, the CDC team said. 

“A community-level plan for distribution of face masks to specific populations, such as those who might experience barriers to access, should be developed,” the CDC team wrote in the agency’s weekly report.

“Because the highest risk for transmission has been documented among household contacts of Covid-19 patients, keeping the household safe requires physical distancing, using the other public health strategies summarized here, and, in particular, consistent and correct use of face masks (outside the household and in some circumstances within the household) to prevent introduction and transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” they added. 

Physical distancing is also important.

“Although the impact of physical distancing is difficult to disaggregate from other interventions, one study estimated that physical distancing decreased the average number of daily contacts by as much as 74%,” they added. Consistent physical distancing could stop the spread, the CDC said.

3:49 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Biden says he is "encouraged" by efforts to pass a $900 billion relief package

President-elect Joe Biden said one of the most important aspects of the $900 billion relief package being negotiated on Capitol Hill is the money it will provide to public health as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage in the US.

"I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in the Senate around $900 billion package for relief. It's a bipartisan effort. When Congress works out the details of this relief package, they're going to have to focus on resources for direct public health responses to Covid-19," Biden said during a news conference this afternoon in Wilmington, Delaware. "We need meaningful funding for vaccines now, so we don't lose time and leave people waiting for additional months. We need serious funding for testing now. We need to ramp up testing, allow our schools and businesses to operate safely. The sooner we pass the funding, the sooner we can turn the corner on Covid-19."

Biden was emphatic that "Congress and President Trump have to get this deal done for the American people."

"But any package passed in the lame duck session is not going to be enough overall. It's critical, but it's just a start. Congress are going to need to act again in January," the President-elect said.

Watch here: