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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11:48 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

South Korea reports another 583 cases of Covid-19

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul, South Korea

A disinfection worker sprays antiseptic solution in a classroom to prevent the spread of Covid-19 ahead of the annual college scholastic ability test at a YoungSang high school in Seoul on December 1.
A disinfection worker sprays antiseptic solution in a classroom to prevent the spread of Covid-19 ahead of the annual college scholastic ability test at a YoungSang high school in Seoul on December 1. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea reported another 583 new cases of Covid-19, authorities said -- 400 of which were found in the Seoul metropolitan area. Four patients died.

The country has been lauded for its response to the pandemic. However, it is currently seeing an uptick in cases.

To date, 36,915 total cases and 540 related deaths have been recorded since the pandemic began.

11:25 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Los Angeles mayor says surge in Covid-19 cases is "greatest threat to life" ever faced by city

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Los Angeles County set records Friday for the highest number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations for the third time in a single week.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday’s numbers would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago, and called the surge “the greatest threat to life” the city has ever faced.

"We’re on the verge of 10,000 cases daily with the numbers that we’re seeing this week," Garcetti said. "Getting this virus under control is mission crucial for Los Angeles."

The county reported 8,860 new cases and 2,668 hospitalizations on Friday, according to a press release from the local Department of Public Health.

Los Angeles is projected to reach half a million coronavirus cases by the end of this year, according to Garcetti.

Public health officials are urging residents not to travel this holiday season, and stay home if possible.

"Los Angeles County continues to experience a pandemic that is moving in a direction that will cause significantly more suffering and deaths,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “As case numbers and hospitalizations continue to rapidly increase, the number of individuals who will experience severe health outcomes will also increase.”

Once 85% of ICU beds are filled in the Southern California region, Los Angeles County will impose additional closures to some businesses including personal care services like nail and hair salons, and family entertainment centers like zoos and museums.

Garcetti said he expects the region will pass the 85% ICU bed capacity threshold in the next few days.

11:04 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

The Covid-19 situation in Japan is "extremely alarming," Prime Minister says

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Yoshihide Suga, Japan's Prime Minister, speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, December 4.
Yoshihide Suga, Japan's Prime Minister, speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, December 4. Hiroyuki Komae/AP Photo

Japan identified another 2,432 new coronavirus cases and 43 related deaths on Friday, the country's health ministry said.

A record 505 coronavirus patients were also in critical condition in intensive care units and on respirators on Friday. The day tied with May 8 for Japan's deadliest day since the pandemic began.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference Friday night that the situation in the country is "extremely alarming," with more people occupying hospital beds with severe cases.

"New infection and severe cases of the coronavirus infection are hitting record highs," Suga said.

To date, at least 158,386 cases of Covid-19 have been identified in Japan. At least 2,296 have died. Authorities said 131,176 patients have been discharged from hospitals.

10:32 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

US FDA authorizes first Covid-19 flu combo test for at-home sample collection

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

The US Food and Drug Administration said Friday it has authorized the first emergency use for a combination coronavirus and flu test for at-home sample collection. It can detect both Covid-19 and influenza A and B.

Health care providers can prescribe the test for people suspected of having Covid-19 for sample collection at home, the FDA said.

The new test is a “significant step” in the agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said Friday in a statement.

“With the authorization of this test, the FDA is helping to address the ongoing fight against Covid-19 while in the middle of the flu season, which is important for many, including the most vulnerable of Americans,” Hahn said.

Hahn said the test, which comes as flu season ramps up in the US, allows suspected Covid-19-positive patients to remain in quarantine at home while waiting for test results. 

“This efficiency can go a long way to providing timely information for those sick with an unknown respiratory ailment,” Hahn added.
10:11 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Even if you already had Covid-19, you should still get the vaccine, says Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Source: CNN

People who contracted Covid-19 should still get the vaccine when it is made available, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

Gupta said natural infections do provide immunity, but "the hope, the thought, is that the immunity that you get from the vaccine will be longer lasting and even stronger."


11:09 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Mexico sets new single-day record with 12,127 Covid-19 infections

From CNN's Abel Alvarado in Atlanta

Mexico reported 12,127 new Covid-19 cases over the last 24 hours -- setting a new single-day record for fresh infections in the country.

Its total confirmed cases stand at 1,144,643, according to the health ministry. 

The ministry also confirmed 690 more related deaths Friday, taking the country's total death toll to 108,863.  

Mexico has the fourth-highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, trailing only the United States, Brazil and India, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

10:12 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Moderna Covid-19 vaccine trial participant recounts her experience

The Froelichs.
The Froelichs. Source: CNN

A Moderna Covid-19 vaccine participant discussed her experience after taking two shots of the experimental drug in August and September.

Susan Froelich recounted the illness she experienced after taking the second shot, which she said could have been a placebo and not the vaccine.

"I woke up with a horrible stomach ache and headache, and it was like I was at the beginning stages of a bad flu," Froelich told CNN during its global coronavirus town hall. "And so, I didn't have anything to take for it at the time so I was in a lot of pain until about four hours later, when my husband woke up and I had him go get me some Naproxen."

Froelich said she took 440 milligrams of Naproxen, which cleared her symptoms but "it was like every part of my body was hurting for about four hours."

"If I hadn't Naproxen right away, I think those symptoms would've abated more quickly. But my muscles hurt, my joints hurt, my bones hurt, my jaw hurt. But it was for such a short time," she said.

Watch here:

10:03 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Will a vaccine stop you from spreading the virus?

Health experts do not yet know if the promising Covid-19 vaccines will protect people against infection and make it less likely that they can infect others, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN.

Here's how Fauci explained it:

"We know that the vaccine is 95% effective in preventing if you are getting sick. We don't know if it's protecting you against infection. If it doesn't protect you against infection, it's likely that the degree of immunity that you have is going to diminish the level of virus in your nasal pharynx. And even though you might be infected, it is likely -- but not proven yet -- but likely that it would be very less likely that you are going to transmit it. "

Fauci said experts don't have exact data to definitively answer the question, but "as we get more and more information from the trial, we will get that information for you."


9:52 p.m. ET, December 4, 2020

Fauci describes the path the Covid-19 vaccine must take before it can be given to children

Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci. Source: CNN

When it comes to administering a new vaccine to children, "safety is really important," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, told CNN during its global coronavirus town hall.

Fauci plotted the course a new vaccine must take before children can receive it.

"With any new vaccine, you show that it is safe and effective in a population of normal adults," he said. "And then you do a phase 1A, or a phase 2A trial in children. You don't need a 30- or 40,000-person trial. You can do it with a couple of thousand children. You want to show A, that it is safe and B, that in induces a kind of response that's comparable to the same response that you know it is protective in the adults. Once you show that, you can do what's called a bridging study, you can bridge the data of safety and immunogenicity from your phase 1 and 2A trial, to the adult trial and then make the decision that you can give it to the children, and it almost certainly will be effective after you've proven that it is safe. Just remember, safety is really important when it comes to children."