December 22 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 23, 2020
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12:20 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Senate minority leader spoke to Biden this morning about need for more stimulus

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol Building on December 20 in Washington, DC.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol Building on December 20 in Washington, DC. Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said that he spoke to President-elect Joe Biden and they agreed that the stimulus bill that passed yesterday is just the beginning of what is needed.

Schumer said at a news conference in New York on Tuesday that he expects that Biden will begin working toward another stimulus package in January or February of 2021.

“I just spoke to Joe Biden. He congratulated me on passing this bill as I was driving here from my house in Brooklyn. We both agreed we are going to need a bigger, bolder bill and try to do it first thing when Joe Biden becomes president so January, February we will start,” Schumer said.

Schumer emphasized that the stimulus bill that passed last night provided enough money for vaccine distribution, but that more money will be needed for state and local aid.

While the stimulus bill provided funding for schools and transportation, the legislation did not include the kind of direct cash to state and local governments that the CARES Act did in the spring. It was a provision that was dropped along with liability when lawmakers were racing against the clock to get a deal. 

“We are going to need more money. This bill is an emergency bill,” Schumer said. “It’s a survival bill.”

“Make no mistake about it, we are going to have to come back and get more," he added.

Read more about the coronavirus relief package here.

11:54 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Here's when you can expect to get a second stimulus check

From CNN's  Katie Lobosco

A second round of stimulus payments was included in a coronavirus relief package passed by Congress Monday night.

The deal provides for $600 checks, but experts say it will take at least two weeks for the Treasury to get cash into individuals' bank accounts after legislation is signed.

"The timing could be more challenging this time, but the IRS could likely begin to get the money out in January," said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

How things played out during the first round of payments: In March, Congress provided individuals with $1,200 direct payments and couples with $2,400 plus $500 per child under the $2 trillion CARES Act.

As with that first round, the new payments will start phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 won't receive anything. The income thresholds would be doubled for couples.

It took two weeks after the first bill was passed for the IRS to start distributing the money — but some eligible recipients still haven't received it, months later.

Who will get the money fastest this time around?: The payments do not go all out at once. Those whose bank information is on file with the IRS will likely get the money first because it will be directly deposited into their account. Others will receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.

About 90 million people — more than half of those eligible — received their payments within the first three weeks of April after the March deal was signed. Most people had their money within two months.

Still, about 12 million eligible Americans were at risk of not getting the money at all because the IRS had no way to reach them. While most people received the money automatically, very low-income people who don't normally file tax returns had to register online before November 21 to provide their address or bank account number.

11:34 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

UK reports highest daily Covid-19 case increase since pandemic began

From CNN's Sarah Dean in London

The United Kingdom has reported at least 36,804 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours – that's the highest daily increase since the pandemic began. 

There have been at least 691 new reported coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the government's dashboard on Tuesday.

Some context: The recent surge comes after the UK has identified a new coronavirus variant that scientists are saying could be up to 70% more effective at spreading than others.

Large parts of England, including London and the southeast, are now under strict Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions, and UK government health experts have suggested additional restrictions could be required to beat back this variant.

Dozens of countries across Europe, the Middle East and the Americas have also announced travel bans for the UK, or new testing and quarantine requirements for UK arrivals.

Learn more about the UK coronavirus variant here.

12:31 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Masks help, but without social distancing, they may not be enough to prevent virus spread, study says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Shoppers walk along Oxford Street in London, England, on December 19.
Shoppers walk along Oxford Street in London, England, on December 19. David Cliff/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Mask-wearing alone, without social distancing, may not be enough to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, according to new research published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids.  

“This study, which can be treated as precautionary, provides quantitative support to the guidelines proposed by the medical research community that wearing a mask and avoiding close face-to-face or frontal interactions as much as possible will help in preventing the transmission and spreading of virus particles such as Covid-19 through sneezes and coughs,” said the study, from researchers at the Consortium for Particulate Suspensions at New Mexico State University.  

“If the relevant social distancing guidelines are compromised, the study shows that foreign airborne sneeze and cough droplets could pass through all the masks tested (except for the N-95 mask) even when assuming a 100% snug fit,” the researchers said.

Researchers used a machine to simulate coughs and sneezes and tested five types of masks with no leakage around the edges. The masks tested were an N95 mask, a surgical mask, a two-layer cloth mask, a regular cloth and a wet two-layer cloth mask.

In experiments that simulated a virus carrier wearing a mask, they found that many small sneeze or cough droplets were still able to escape the mask, even when it was snug. Therefore, both virus carriers and susceptible people could consider wearing masks to reduce the transmission. 

“A mask definitely helps, but if the people are very close to each other, there is still a chance of spreading or contracting the virus,” study author Krishna Kota, an associate professor at New Mexico State University, said in a statement. “It’s not just masks that will help. It’s both the masks and distancing.” 

11:11 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Almost 3,000 lorries reportedly stranded in Kent, England, following France border closure

From CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite

Lorries waiting to cross the English Channel are parked on the runway at Manston airport on December 22 in Kent, England.
Lorries waiting to cross the English Channel are parked on the runway at Manston airport on December 22 in Kent, England. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

There are currently almost 3,000 lorries stranded in Kent, England, a press officer for Kent County Council told CNN on Tuesday afternoon. They are stranded because France closed its border with Britain on Sunday following the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant discovered in the UK.

There are 632 lorries on the M20 motorway – a key gateway to the continent for freight trucks traveling in and out of the UK – and 2,188 lorries in the Manston Airport carpark, the press officer said.

On Monday, the UK enacted "Operation Brock" in a bid to keep traffic moving on the M20 during periods of cross-Channel disruption. The motorway barrier system was designed to deal with potential traffic disruption at the end of the Brexit transition period.

Lorries arriving in Kent en route to the port of Dover or the Eurotunnel are being diverted to Manston Airport to park.

The operation involves using a contraflow road layout on the M20 London-bound carriageway between junctions 9 and 8 (from Ashford to Maidstone) and directing lorries heading for mainland Europe onto the coastbound carriageway, where they can be queued if necessary.

Hauliers have been advised to avoid traveling to Kent as disruption could last for several days.

11:03 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

First cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Antarctica as 36 people test positive on military base

From CNN's Florencia Trucco, Cristopher Ulloa and Maija Ehlinger

The continent of Antarctica has recorded its first Covid-19 cases, after 36 individuals tested positive on a research base, according to a statement released by the Chilean Army. 

Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme (BAE) Station, a Chilean military base in Antarctica, confirmed that 26 Army personnel and 10 civilians working as contractors on the base tested positive on Sunday.

The Chilean Army's statement said they have an "unconditional commitment to safeguard the health of its members." 

Personnel on the research base have been isolated and are "constantly monitored with the support from the Health Authority of the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic Region, achieving so far a favorable diagnosis and without any complications associated with COVID-19 by our staff," the statement added.

As of Tuesday, Chile has recorded at least 589,189 total coronavirus cases and 16,217 deaths, according to the Chilean Health Ministry. 

11:13 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Dr. Fauci and US health secretary Azar receive Covid-19 vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, December 22 in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Anthony Fauci receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, December 22 in Bethesda, Maryland. Pool

Dr. Anthony Fauci is getting the first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Bethesda, Maryland.

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and six other NIH frontline workers are also receiving the vaccine this morning.

As he received the vaccine, Fauci explained why he believed it was important for him to get it.

"As a symbol to the rest of the country that I feel extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine, and I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so we can have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic," Fauci said.

Speaking at the beginning of the event Tuesday, Fauci said he considered it "an honor to be part of this process."

"What we're seeing now is the culmination of years of research which have led to a phenomenon that has truly been unprecedented," Fauci added, saying that he is also honored to be a member of the NIH, a place where these developments got started.

Azar called this vaccine an "extraordinary" scientific achievement. As he sat to receive the vaccine, he said he had "complete confidence" in the safety of the vaccine. Azar also thanked NIH for their efforts.

"We've all said it is nothing short of miraculous to have a safe and effective vaccine within one year of a novel virus becoming known to the world," he said.

Watch the moment Dr. Fauci received the Covid-19 vaccine:

11:14 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

SOON: Fauci will receive the Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe, Holly Yan and Steve Almasy

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks before receiving a Covid-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on December 22.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks before receiving a Covid-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on December 22. Pool

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Francis Collins, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine this morning.

In short remarks at the beginning of the event, Fauci said it was "an honor" to be a part of this process.

Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said on Twitter yesterday hat he will receive Moderna's vaccine, alongside Azar, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other NIH frontline workers.

As of this morning, here have been at least 4,624,325 vaccine doses delivered across the US and 614,117 vaccine doses administered according to the CDC

Most Americans will have to wait months before getting their inoculations.

On Monday, the country reported about 191,000 new cases and 1,700 deaths, as more than 115,000 people were hospitalized — a new record.

The US has had more than 18 million cases and more than 319,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

9:54 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Covid-19 cases surge in the US as the vaccine roll out continues. Here's a look at the latest figures.

From CNN's Haley Brink 

As more people in the United States receive a Covid-19 vaccine, the US is still seeing a surge of new Covid-19 cases, causing a strain on hospital systems.

Pfizer and Moderna meanwhile are testing their coronavirus vaccines to see if they work against the mutated version of the virus found in the United Kingdom and other countries, the companies said.

Here's a look at where things stand in the US:


  • So far this morning, there have been at least 4,624,325 vaccine doses delivered across the US.
  • Of those, 614,117 doses have been administered according to the CDC

New cases

  • The US surpassed 18 million total Covid-19 cases yesterday. It took just 4 days for the country to hit this million marker. So far, the US has reached the last 4 "million milestones" every 4 to 5 days – meaning if this growth continues, there could be 20 million cases by the new year.
  • The US is averaging about 215,429 Covid-19 cases per day.
  • California reported nearly 40,000 daily new cases yesterday and both Texas and Florida reported over 10,000 daily new case yesterday, according to Johns Hopkins University.


  • The nation is averaging at least 2,655 reported deaths a day, according to JHU. This is the highest that this metric has ever been. 
  • Deaths are rising in 21 states compared to this time last week, according to JHU.


  • The US reported at least 115,351 hospitalizations on Monday – that is a record high, according to CTP data.
  • The US is now averaging about 113,912 hospitalizations over the last 7 days, this is up 4.48% from last week.