December 14 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 4:06 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020
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5:33 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Bipartisan group formally unveils legislative text for coronavirus relief plan

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav and Daniella Diaz

Sen. Joe Manchin speaks alongside a bipartisan group of Democrat and Republican members of Congress as they announce a proposal for a Covid-19 relief bill on Capitol Hill on December 14 in Washington.
Sen. Joe Manchin speaks alongside a bipartisan group of Democrat and Republican members of Congress as they announce a proposal for a Covid-19 relief bill on Capitol Hill on December 14 in Washington. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing a package with a $908 billion price tag held a news conference Monday afternoon to formally release their legislative text.

The group decided to split the plan into two bills with one of the bills dealing with the thorny issues of state and local aid and liability protections, while the other bill deals with provisions expected to win more widespread bipartisan support.

Congressional leaders have not yet signed off on any deal – a point that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia gave a nod to when he said, “Now it’s up to the leadership and make this happen on a timely basis.” But Manchin struck an optimistic tone, saying at the end of the news conference as he pointed to the bill text sitting on a podium, “help is on the way.”

It’s also not yet clear whether Democrats will broadly embrace the bill dealing with state and local aid and liability protections. Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine addressed that point, saying, “the other piece involving state and local aid and liability, we couldn’t come to a uniform consensus although there is still work going on in that area.” 

GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine praised the bipartisan effort, saying, “I think we’ve had a Christmas miracle occur in Washington."

Echoing Manchin’s point on next steps, she said, “My hope is that our hard work will spur our leadership on both sides of the aisle in the Senate and in the House and in the administration to take our products and use them as the basis for a Covid relief package that is urgently needed.”

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska referred to the stack of legislative text as “hope.”

“I think it’s important that you’re hearing and seeing that there is a unity in purpose here,” she said.

“It would be scrooge-like if we went away and left folks the day after Christmas to lose their unemployment, or the day after New Years to lose their apartment,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said at the news conference, describing the stakes.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio shared that he has lost multiple friends to coronavirus.

"I just lost my third friend to Covid," Portman said. "He died in a hospital after a painful process of being in the ICU and going through with his family the grief and the pain."

5:24 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

California governor warns "we’re still in the tunnel" as state hospitals get first vaccine shipments

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Source: Pool

Four hospitals in California received a total of 33,150 Covid-19 vaccine doses today, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced, just minutes after some of the first health care workers in the state were vaccinated at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.

Strikingly, the number of doses received in the state were equal to the number of new infections recorded today. 

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel,” Newsom cautioned, as the state continues to battle its worst rise in infections and hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic.

Today’s shipments were sent to hospitals in Los Angeles, San Diego and Northern California. On Tuesday, 24 additional sites are expected to receive vaccine shipments, and five more sites will receive the doses on Wednesday, Newsom elaborated.

“We are very close within the next week or so anticipating that to be replicated in other parts of this state,” Newsom said. “We are in the midst of the worst moment of this pandemic so today is hopeful and reason to be optimistic, but let's be mindful of where we really are, in terms of this pandemic and forgive me for saying that.”  

Both Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed awe at the moment the scientific milestone brings.

“The hope of this moment to witness the vaccines that we just saw, brought a tear to my eye, because it shows human ingenuity. It shows the stubbornness, that human beings have, we want to survive. We want to thrive. And we will make it through this,” Garcetti gushed.

Newsom plans to be vaccinated, but said he will wait until it is available to him, “I will not be cutting in line” in front of critical workers, he said. 

Garcetti also intends to get vaccinated when appropriate, and assured residents of the safety of the vaccine. “I just also wanted to spell out for any communities, because at the federal level, and with a double check at the state, these vaccines have not been infected by power. You can trust them. You should trust them. I trust them.”

5:04 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Health secretary says he wants to get vaccinated "as soon as possible"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Monday that he wants to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as he can.

"I want to get vaccinated as soon as possible and I want to do it on TV, because I want the American people to see my complete confidence in the integrity of the system. I want them to see that I wouldn't ask them to do something that I wouldn't do myself," Azar told CNN's Jake Tapper.

Azar added that he would be "delighted" for any public official to get vaccinated on TV. Tapper said that President-elect Joe Biden announced he would do so when his time comes to get vaccinated.

"If President-elect Biden comes to you, would you inoculate him, would you vaccinate him? Or perhaps have somebody do so?" Tapper asked Azar.

"Of course we would," Azar said. "Any of those types of efforts that signal to the American people the importance of getting vaccinated and that we as leaders are willing to put our money where our mouth is — of course we'd be very supportive of that and make sure that would happen."

Watch the moment:

5:16 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Health authorities will alert people once it's their time to get Covid-19 vaccine, HHS secretary says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard)

People across the United States should learn from their local public health authorities and providers when they may be eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine — especially older adults and people with underlying medical conditions, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Monday.

"We're going to have enough for 20 million people to get vaccinated by the end of December and then, as I think I mentioned, enough for up to 50 million total by the end of January. As we move into February, we hope to have not only the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, AstraZeneca, potentially, that will increase supply even more," Azar said. 

"So we could be seeing in the end of February, into March, more general vaccination programs," he said.

Azar added that his "personal hope" is that the individuals who are elderly and particularly vulnerable will be in some of those next groups in February, "but they're going to learn that from their governor and local health authorities."

Watch:

4:51 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

HHS secretary calls rising US Covid-19 death toll a "terrible tragedy"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

CNN
CNN

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called the rising death from Covid-19 in the United States a "terrible tragedy."

"Any death from Covid is a terrible tragedy," he told CNN's Jake Tapper as Covid-19 deaths surpassed 300,000 in the US.

"Any death in this context and not just directly from Covid," said Azar, who lost his father earlier this year.

"I wasn't able to see him for the month and a half before. I've gotten to experience the pain that individuals who can't be with their relatives who are in a nursing home, be with the relatives who are dying in intensive care units, what they experience. The pain and the anguish in our health care system and our country is real, and that is why I wake up every day with a fervid commitment to deliver vaccines like we're doing ... Because we want these deaths to stop, we want to turn around these hospitalizations, we want cases to go down, " Azar explained.

Azar also pushed back against claims that the rush to approve the vaccine was politically motivated.

"I'm assuring the American people. I led this process. I am the secretary, I am the one who approved this vaccine and will approve others. These are the product of an independent, safe system. Some of the largest vaccine clinical trials in history. Independent data safety monitoring boards. Independent FDA, FDA advisory committees, FDA guidelines that are transparent and clear, decided ultimately by FDA career scientists to authorize this vaccine and they will do the same with others. The best thing that we can do is ensure the rigor and integrity of the process and then the transparency of the data," he said.

Watch the moment:

4:45 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

8 more Ohio hospitals are expecting to receive Pfizer vaccine tomorrow, governor says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a news conference on Monday, December 14.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a news conference on Monday, December 14. Source: The Ohio Channel

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday said eight more hospitals across the state are expected to receive the Pfizer tomorrow to begin vaccinating its health care workers.

Speaking during a news briefing this afternoon, DeWine said those hospitals "were selected based on geography, population, and access to ultra-cold storage capacity."

The hospitals are:

  • Mercy Health St. Vincent Hospital in Lucas County
  • Cleveland Clinic in Cuyahoga County
  • Metro Health Medical Center in Cuyahoga County
  • Mercy Health Springfield Regional Medical Center in Clark County
  • OhioHealth Riverside Hospital in Franklin County
  • Aultman Hospital in Stark County
  • OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens County
  • Genesis Hospital in Muskingum County

"Next week we hope Moderna is approved, that we will see vaccines going to many, many hospitals throughout the state of Ohio," DeWine said.

Vaccination began for health care workers at OSU Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati earlier today.

DeWine said the state will begin vaccinations in nursing homes starting Friday. 

Between five and 10 nursing homes will begin vaccination on Friday, DeWine added. The governor did not specify which nursing homes or care facilities will be among the first to participate in this launch. 

4:20 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Nearly 50,000 vaccine doses will be delivered to Wisconsin this week

From CNN's Kay Jones

From left, UW Health pharmacy techs Amy Schultz, Susan Johnson and Nikolas Gardner unpack the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine in Madison, Wisconsin, on Monday.
From left, UW Health pharmacy techs Amy Schultz, Susan Johnson and Nikolas Gardner unpack the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine in Madison, Wisconsin, on Monday. John Maniaci/UW Health/AP

Health officials in Wisconsin said that they expect 49,725 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be delivered this week. 

In a news conference Monday afternoon, Deputy Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Health, Julie Willems Van Dijk said that at least two hubs have received shipments of nearly 10,000 doses earlier on Monday. The state has partnered with eight hubs throughout the state that have the storage capabilities necessary for the vaccine, including the freezer capacity. 

According to a news release from Gov. Tony Evers' office, the state expects increased doses in shipments scheduled in the coming weeks. 

“Since the early days in the pandemic, we have been planning and preparing for the arrival of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” Evers said in the release. “I fully trust in the expertise of our scientists, researchers, and public health experts who are guiding our planning, preparation, and distribution. They have put a lot of effort into ensuring that the vaccine infrastructure and clinics are ready for the successful rollout of our Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Program.”

Earlier today, the University of Wisconsin health system said they received the first doses of the vaccine. In a tweet, they said that they will start vaccinating employees this afternoon. 

4:04 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Alaska received its first shipment of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The state of Alaska received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccine Sunday night, according to an announcement from the Department of Health and Social Services. The vaccine supply created by Pfizer and BioNTech was flown to the state by UPS. Alaska is the first state outside the contiguous United States to confirm receiving a shipment.

The DHSS says it will take until Wednesday before vaccines arrive in some locations that have ordered them. “Following receipt of the first shipments, some health care workers could begin receiving vaccinations either later that day or soon thereafter at hospitals and health care facilities,” the department said in its press release Monday.

In addition to the health care facilities that have directly ordered a vaccine supply, the state is working with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to get doses to Alaska’s substantial number of remote indigenous communities.

4:05 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

US surpasses 300,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Family and friends attend the funeral of Humberto Rosales on December 3, in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Rosales died from Covid-19 complications.
Family and friends attend the funeral of Humberto Rosales on December 3, in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Rosales died from Covid-19 complications. Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

There have been at least 300,267 reported deaths from Covid-19 in the United States since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

There have been at least 16,388,504 total coronavirus cases in the US, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Johns Hopkins recorded the first death from Covid-19 on Feb. 29 in Washington state. Two earlier deaths in California were posthumously confirmed to be from Covid-19 later in the spring.