December 7 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, December 8, 2020
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1:03 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

People who have tested positive for Covid-19 should still get the vaccine, doctor says

From CNN's Leanna Faulk

Dr. William Moss, an infectious disease pediatrician at Johns Hopkins University, encouraged anyone who has already tested positive for Covid-19 to get vaccinated once a vaccine becomes available.

“This too is a very important question, and it also is sometimes framed as, you know, if someone had Covid-19, should they get the vaccine, and the general recommendations now are yes,” Moss said during a John Hopkins webinar on Covid-19 vaccine distribution on Monday.

Moss said there have been different levels of immune responses, depending on the severity of the disease in the individual.

“People who have asymptomatic or very mild infections tend not to have as strong an antibody response as people who have been sicker. We certainly don't want that,” he said.

Moss added there is some potential that someone who has already tested positive for Covid-19 can produce a stronger antibody response once vaccinated. However, this is not the case for all vaccines, he said.

1:03 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Fauci says coronavirus test positivity in schools is really low

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Office of Governor of Andrew M. Cuomo
Office of Governor of Andrew M. Cuomo

Dr. Anthony Fauci made the argument to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday that coronavirus does not seem to be spreading in schools.

It’s one of the issues where governors and local leaders have strongly differed with federal leaders. Local leaders in many areas, including New York City, have opted to close schools to in-person classes while Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House have all pushed hard to reopen schools.

Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Cuomo that high percentages of schoolchildren are not testing positive for coronavirus.

“You know, it originally did surprise me,” Fauci said, because there was always a concern looking at what’s known to happen with influenza, that kids would be in school, get infected and come home and infect their parents and relatives. 

“We’re not finding that with this coronavirus,” Fauci argued. “I think real positive spinoff of this is the realization that schools appear to be a place where the positivity, just like you all are seeing it in New York, the whole state including New York City, you’re not alone. We’re seeing that in other parts of the country, that the test positivity in schools is actually really low, which is really a good thing.” 

This is why it’s better to close bars and keep the schools open, Fauci said. 

“So long as you subsidize and help the restaurateurs and the bar owners so that they don't go down and essentially crash because of the economic strain. But if we can keep those things under control, subsidize those people, as well as keep the schools open, we'd be in good shape,” Fauci said. 

1:02 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

The pandemic is bad now, but "the middle of January could be a really dark time for us," Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Office of Governor of Andrew M. Cuomo
Office of Governor of Andrew M. Cuomo

The coronavirus pandemic is as bad as it’s ever been across the country, but it’s going to get even worse, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a briefing on Monday. 

“The middle of January could be a really dark time for us,” Fauci said during Cuomo’s regular coronavirus briefing.

Holiday travel and gatherings have amplified the already expected effect of cooler weather driving people indoors more. 

“You’d expect that the effect of the Thanksgiving surge would be probably another week and week and a half from now, because it’s usually two and a half weeks from the time of the event,” Fauci said. “The problem is, that’s going to come right up to the beginning of the Christmas, Hannukah potential surge.”  

There’s a surge upon a surge, Fauci said. And before anyone can even try to cope with that, people will travel over the winter holiday period and there will be more of the gatherings of family and friends that have been fueling the pandemic.

“We could start to see things really get bad in the middle of January,” Fauci predicted.

Fauci also reminded Americans that they can mitigate the spread.

“It’s such a natural thing to think, when I have family and friends over for the holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah, you get indoors you take your mask off because you're eating and drinking. And you don't realize that there may be somebody that you know, that you love, that's a friend, that's a family member, who is perfectly well with no symptoms, and yet they got infected in the community, and brought it into that small gathering that you're now having in your home,” he said.

He urged people to take the same precautions at small family gatherings that they do when they are around strangers: wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and meet either outdoors in well-ventilated spaces

12:12 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

New York governor orders hospitals to increase capacity by 25%

From CNN's Julian Cummings

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference in New York on October 5.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference in New York on October 5. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a statewide positivity rate of 4.79% and ordered hospitals in the state to increase capacity by 25%. 

The positivity rate in micro-cluster areas is 6.57%, and without that portion of testing, the statewide rate is 4.27%.

There are currently 4,620 people hospitalized due to Covid-19 in New York state.

As a part of the state’s new “Surge and Flex” strategy Cuomo announced that hospitals must increase bed capacity by 25%.

When laying out the surge portion of the strategy Cuomo said that the state currently has a capacity of 54,000 beds available and that the health commissioner has the ability to increase capacity up to 50% and close elective surgeries if needed. 

If those actions are taken the state would have an estimated 75,000 hospital beds available with roughly 58,000 of them for Covid-19 patients. 

Cuomo also said that the health commissioner can open field hospitals to add beds If needed. 

“That would be from my point of view that last resource. We did that, the Jacob Javits center for example, we did 2000 beds” Cuomo added. 

The flex portion of the plan relates to balancing patient loads within hospital systems both public and private. 

“Every night we get an inventory form hospital doctor. How many patients do you have, how many ICU beds do you have. What capacity do you have?”

New York state currently has 872 patients in the ICU, and increase of 22 people. At least 477 of those patients are on ventilators, an increase of 13 people. 

Cuomo announced that an additional 80 people died due to Covid-19. 

Note: These numbers were released by the New York Governor’s office 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.

12:06 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Furloughed worker on stimulus relief negotiations: "Quit playing politics with people's lives"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Two Americans waiting for a possible second round of stimulus opened up about how their livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic.

Sean Blair was furloughed from his job at a carpet cleaning business back in March and has been dependent on the previous relief benefits. If Congress doesn't pass a Covid-19 relief package, Blair could lose his unemployments benefits days after Christmas, CNN's Poppy Harlow said.

Two of Blair's family members were also diagnosed with Covid-19 and one died.

Blair's message to Congress: "Quit playing politics with people's lives."

"I mean, Covid doesn't care who you are. It kills indiscriminately. And I just want people to look back and say; 'Hey, people need help.' You see people going on lockdowns, going back. We're worse off than we were in March and there's no relief," Blair said.

Blair is currently relying on his girlfriend's income and said that the stimulus relief would help him pay bills. He said that the $600 unemployment relief benefit that expired was a big help.

"Some people thought that people were just lounging around and sitting at home because they were getting extra money. That helped me pay my bills, that helped me stay on track with my mortgage, pay my homeowner's associations bills, my utilities because they're really, really high. That extra money wasn't — people used that. It wasn't just to sit around," Blair said.

Jeff Good owns three restaurants in Mississippi and was forced to lay-off a majority of his employees during the first shutdown in the spring.

Good said the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) had a short-term effect and allowed the businesses to start-up again over the summer. He’s brought back 155 employees, but is concerned about the future of his business as Covid-19 cases across the country surge and states tighten restrictions

“Sean's and mine are two sides of the same coin. I'm in the position where I'm able to provide an incredible livelihood for a lot of folks, including myself. And to no fault of our own, to Sean's, to mine, to none of us, this has happened,” Good told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

“Now we're nine months into the pandemic and we're looking in, as Sean mentioned, a really dark time… More stimulus is needed for this economy. If we don’t pay it now, we’re going to pay it more later,” Good added.

Good said that the stimulus bill is the only way to “make up” for what he has. Good said groups who had booked his restaurant for the holiday season have cancelled and now he’s back to looking at tightening his businesses. Good is hoping that a bill designated to help restaurant owners is also passed soon to offer additional relief.  

“PPP is so needed for all businesses… but we need something on top of that or else, when you go to get your bagel or you go to try to get a lunch on the corner or the mom and pop diner, we're not making it,” Good said.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are hoping to unveil legislation that would provide Covid-19 relief to millions of Americans this week.

Watch the full interview:

11:40 a.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Canada orders 40 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN Health’s Samira Said

A man in DeLand, Florida, receives his first injection as a participant in a coronavirus vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna on August 4.
A man in DeLand, Florida, receives his first injection as a participant in a coronavirus vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna on August 4. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Canadian government doubled its order commitment of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine candidate, from 20 million to 40 million doses, Moderna announced in a statement Monday.

The biotechnology company said shipments of its vaccine to Canada could begin as soon as this month if regulatory approval is granted in December.

"(Moderna) has already initiated the rolling review process with Health Canada and intends to seek Prequalification (PQ) and/or Emergency Use Listing (EUL) with the World Health Organization (WHO)," according to a news release from Moderna. 

"The Canadian vaccine supply will be sourced from Moderna’s European production capacity," the statement said.

11:19 a.m. ET, December 7, 2020

New York City middle schoolers may be able to return to in-person learning as soon as January

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wants to move middle schools back to in-person learning as quickly as possible, and as early as January.

“My goal is to get middle school back as quickly as possible, practically that means January, and then when we have that secured, move to high school,” he said. 

Improving remote learning is a constant focus of the city's Department of Education, chancellor Richard Carranza said. He has been speaking with colleagues in other large urban school systems and “generally speaking” all are seeing that “not all children are doing well” in the virtual learning environment.

He said he is proud of staff who are intervening when they feel a student is not doing as well as they could be. 

Every phase of the pandemic has provided for “imperfect” learning solutions, and he said he looks forward to the time when in person learning can return 100%. He said there is “tremendous hope on the horizon,” and its important that individuals “push through.”

He earlier said well over 150 of those schools are in full 5 days of instructions, though noted clearer numbers were come Tuesday morning.

Last month, New York schools announced it would begin phasing out hybrid learning and move toward resuming in-person classes after citywide shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, de Blasio announced students in 3K, Pre-K and grades K-5 could resume in-person classes today, but the mayor noted that the city will address when middle and high schoolers can return to in-person classes in the future.

10:28 a.m. ET, December 7, 2020

This surge is different because "it’s really about health care capacity," Surgeon General says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams attends a hearing on September 9 in Washington, DC.
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams attends a hearing on September 9 in Washington, DC. Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images

“We want to immunize for impact,” US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Monday, when asked who should be next to be vaccinated. “We want to make sure we’re giving it to the people who are most likely to die from this virus.”

Adams said that 40% to 50% of deaths are occurring in people who are in long-term care facilities or who are older, but “we also want out health care workers who are on the frontlines to be able to get it.”

“This surge is different than earlier surges, because it’s not about PPE. It’s not about testing. It’s really about health care capacity, and certain places are just being overwhelmed,” Adams said. “So, we know that we can actually help them with their health care capacity by immunizing their health care staff.”

Adams said the decision about who would get the vaccine would be left up to the states, but they will receive guidance.

Some states will have to immunize their health care workers first, he said. Others will find they get greater impact by vaccinating the older people and people wither underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk for serious illness.

“But about 20 million doses, or full doses, are going to be available by the end of this year – and we’ll keep pushing vaccines out to people as quickly as we can so that we can end this pandemic,” Adams said.

He asked people to follow the three W’s: wear a mask, wash hands and watch your distance; also to avoid people outside of their household as much as possible.

“And please be patient with your leaders around the country. They’re trying to preserve hospital capacity,” Adams said, adding that the leaders want everyone who needs a bed to have access to a bed.

“That’s not going to happen if we keep engaging in behaviors that lead to the spread of the virus,” he said.

10:18 a.m. ET, December 7, 2020

It's a critical week for vaccines in the US — but there are still challenging months ahead

The first patient enrolled in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine clinical trial is pictured at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore on May 4.
The first patient enrolled in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine clinical trial is pictured at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore on May 4. University of Maryland School of Medicine/AP

On Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration will meet to decide on authorization for Pfizer's vaccine candidate.

But health officials warn that while some Americans may receive a vaccine by the end of the year, the country likely won't see any meaningful impacts until late spring.

In the meantime, experts project an incredibly challenging next few months. The US is nearing 200,000 daily coronavirus cases — and with the recent spike in cases, record hospitalizations have followed. On Sunday, 101,487 patients were in the hospital with the virus, the fifth consecutive day the US surpassed 100,000 hospitalizations.

On Saturday, the US reported more than one million new cases of Covid-19 within the first five days of December.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Americans' behavior is behind the crippling surge — and health experts warn that it could get worse as the holidays approach.

"People are going indoors, they're not minding the three W's," Azar told Fox News's Chris Wallace Sunday. "Our advice is always the same. Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear face coverings."

Azar later told ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "We're worried about people and the behaviors coming up with Christmas ... We want to make sure everyone's loved ones are there next Christmas, especially when we have so much hope of vaccines."

This morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he, too, is worried about Christmas, saying the holiday could be even more of a challenge" than Thanksgiving, since the season runs for more than a week, from before Christmas Eve to New Year's Day.

“I hope that people realize that and understand that as difficult as this is, nobody wants to modify – if not essentially shut down – their holiday season, but we are in a very critical time in this country right now.”