December 12 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Brett McKeehan, Amy Woodyatt, Fernando Alfonso III and Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 12:07 a.m. ET, December 13, 2020
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4:46 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

FedEx will use new tracking technology for Covid-19 vaccine distribution  

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

FedEx Executive Vice President Richard Smith told CNN that the delivery services company will be using a new sensor-based tracking device when transporting Covid-19 vaccines for precision tracking. 

FedEx's "SenseAware ID" was launched in September and was developed in conjunction with Microsoft, Smith said.  

SenseAware ID uses a lightweight, compact sensor that transmits precise package location data every two seconds via Bluetooth Low Energy, according to FedEx. 

"We'll be able to know where they are at all times, we'll have our priority alert agents monitoring them," Smith said.  

Some context: Smith said the decision was made to begin shipping vaccines on Sunday, with deliveries going out on Monday.

This is because the administrative staff needed to receive packages at the various sites may be off or short-staffed on a Sunday, according to Smith. 

It's "best we wait until Monday to deliver them to ensure they are all open and ready to receive," he said.

3:44 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

CDC advisers say their independent evaluation of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the US worked

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Beth Bell.
Dr. Beth Bell. CDC ASIP

Members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said Saturday that their evaluation of Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was independent and transparent.

“I do believe that the process that we have used here in the ACIP to reach this decision is transparent, is science-based, keeps equity in mind and is, for this moment, the absolute best that we can do,” said ACIP member Dr. Beth Bell, a clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington.

ACIP member Veronica McNally, assistant dean for experiential education at Michigan State University College of Law, noted that the group has held nine meetings and heard more than 70 presentations on Covid-19 and the Covid-19 vaccine since February.

“At this time, we are asked how to do the greatest good. As the pandemic continues to spread, hospitalizations are at record levels, I vote to make vaccines available by the CDC prioritization schedule,” said ACIP member Dr. Katherine Poehling, a pediatrics professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “I will take this vaccine and will recommend it to my family members as well.”

3:32 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

CDC adviser: "I am really hopeful that this is the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic"

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Dr. Peter Szilagyi.
Dr. Peter Szilagyi. CDC ASIP

Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they had little difficulty voting to recommend Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to people living in the United States.

“I want to say that I voted for the vaccine because of the clear evidence of its efficacy/safety profile and benefit/risk profile, based on our evidence and policy framework,” Dr. Peter Szilagyi, a pediatrician at the University of California Los Angeles and a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said immediately after the committee’s vote.

Some context: The US Food and Drug Administration gave Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine emergency use authorization on Friday.

ACIP met Saturday and voted to recommend that CDC approve the vaccine for use in the US and add it to the vaccine schedule. Now the CDC must decide whether to accept the ACIP’s recommendation before vaccines can actually be given to people, but officials with the US federal government’s Operation Warp Speed say they are boxing up vaccines to ship them out for delivery on Monday.

Szilagyi said he felt strongly that 16- and 17-year-olds should be included in the recommendation.

“I also wanted to re-emphasize what many people and I have said today about the need for substantially increased government funding to actually implement the recommendation,” Szilagyi added.

2:52 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

CDC vaccine advisers vote to recommend Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the US

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination health center on December 8 in Cardiff, England.
A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination health center on December 8 in Cardiff, England. Justin Tallis/Pool/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has voted to recommend the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for people age 16 and older, moving the United States one step closer to the vaccination of millions of people.

Vaccines cannot be administered until CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield accepts the committee’s recommendation, which is expected to take place within hours.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in the United States.

3:08 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

California reports its most Covid-19 cases in a single day

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian 

California’s Covid-19 surge continues to break case count records, with increased hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions, according to new data released by the state’s public health department on Saturday.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported 35,729 new coronavirus cases on Saturday—breaking the record set on Friday of 35,468 new cases.

The number of new coronavirus cases across the state has sharply increased since the beginning of the week.

2:07 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

New Jersey reports highest number of new Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic

From CNN’s Evan Simko-Bednarski

Motorists receive Covid-19 tests at Bergen Community College on December 3 in Paramus, New Jersey.
Motorists receive Covid-19 tests at Bergen Community College on December 3 in Paramus, New Jersey. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

New Jersey reported 6,247 additional Covid-19 infections on Saturday, the highest single-day report of new infections since the pandemic began.

To date, New Jersey has recorded 396,496 cases of Covid-19, state data showed.

The data, reported by the New Jersey Department of Health, was posted on the state's Covid dashboard Saturday afternoon. The department also reported 71 deaths of confirmed Covid-19 positive individuals. 

Note: These numbers were released by the New Jersey Department of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project. 

1:10 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate rises to 7-day average of 6.26%, mayor says

From CNN's Laura Ly

New York City’s seven-day positivity rate has risen to 6.26%, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday.

In comparison, city data shows that the city’s weekly average percent positivity for the last four weeks had been nearly two percentage points lower at 4.29%.

City data shows that every metric that New York City uses to monitor the spread Covid-19, including positivity rate, case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths, are all currently increasing.

On Friday, de Blasio said the city’s daily positivity rate was 5.35% and city officials hope to get the rate below 5%. 

De Blasio said 2,575 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Saturday and 193 more people have been admitted into the city’s hospitals due to the virus.

“This weekend will be a pivotal moment in our fight. The vaccine is imminent. We need to keep our city safe in this last stretch,” de Blasio said.

Note: These numbers were released by New York City officials, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

2:54 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

Americans still need to wear a mask and socially distance, even after getting vaccinated, CDC says

(From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht)

People wear face masks and rubber gloves in Riverside Park on November 14 in New York.
People wear face masks and rubber gloves in Riverside Park on November 14 in New York. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Because there’s limited information about how well the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine works in the general population, vaccinated people should continue to follow all the current guidelines about how to protect themselves and others, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Community on Immunization Practices was told during a meeting on Saturday.

That guidance includes wearing masks, staying 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds and washing hands frequently.

The CDC’s Dr. Sarah Mbaeyi said information is currently limited on how much the vaccine may reduce disease severity or transmission, and how long protection lasts. Mbaeyi noted during the presentation that protection from the two-dose series of vaccine is not immediate, and no vaccine is 100% effective.


1:08 p.m. ET, December 12, 2020

Operation Warp Speed general is "100% confident" Covid-19 vaccine will be distributed safely

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US Army general in charge of distributing America’s first coronavirus vaccines says he’s confident it will be done safely, even if it’s not done perfectly.

“I am absolutely, 100%, confident that we are going to distribute safely, this precious commodity this vaccine needed to defeat the enemy, Covid,” Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said at a news conference Saturday.  “Many of you want to know who will receive the first vaccine. And while I leave that up to the experts at the Health and Human Services organization, I remind you of this: Nearly 100,000 Americans have already rolled up their sleeves and participated in clinical trials across America. They were the true first recipients of the vaccine."

Perna said the federal government was only delivering half the doses on hand, because Pfizer’s vaccine, which received US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization Friday, requires two doses.

“For me, it's a moral responsibility and obligation to make sure that second dose is available for the American people,” Perna said. “We want to ensure the vaccine arrives safely and that it can be effectively administered once arrival occurs. I t is so important that all vaccine that's available is utilized as a shot in an arm and nothing is wasted."

Perna said vaccines should be delivered Monday.

“The reason why we're holding on to the second dose, as well as some reserve, is that we don't have absolute confidence in the cadence – not because Pfizer or Moderna or the supporting manufacturers and fill-finishes aren’t diligent in their process. But it is such a delicate process, we want to ensure perfection in the vaccine because we don't want anything going into an arm that would be a problem,” Perna said.

Hear how the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed: