December 30 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:02 AM ET, Thu December 31, 2020
61 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:55 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

New Covid-19 variant identified in Southern California, governor says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A woman receives a Covid-19 testing kit at a regional pop-up walk-up testing site in Baldwin Park on Monday, December 21.
A woman receives a Covid-19 testing kit at a regional pop-up walk-up testing site in Baldwin Park on Monday, December 21. Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The new Covid-19 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, has now been found in Southern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday during an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on Facebook.

“Just an hour or so ago, we were informed that this new variant, this new strain that we've identified obviously from the United Kingdom, from other parts of the globe, identified in Colorado yesterday, has been identified here in the state of California, in Southern California,” Newsom said.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the news about the new strain, which appears to be more transmissible but not more deadly, was to be expected.

“I don't think that Californians should feel that this is something odd,” Fauci said. “This is something that's expected.”

4:19 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

More than 340,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

There have been at least 19,653,653 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 340,956 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

So far today, Johns Hopkins has recorded 142,817 new cases and 2,395 reported deaths.

At least 12,409,050 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 2,589,125 doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

4:02 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Covid-19 vaccines will likely protect against new variant, Giroir says

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine at a retirement home in Delray Beach, Florida, on Wednesday.
A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine at a retirement home in Delray Beach, Florida, on Wednesday. Saul Martinez/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccines will likely protect against a new variant of the virus that was first reported in the UK and now identified in Colorado, US Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Adm. Brett Giroir said Wednesday.

“We do expect – we haven't proven it 100%, but we will soon – we do expect that the vaccines now being administered or under development will cover this strain very well,” Giroir told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

The new variant appears to be more transmissible, but not more deadly.

“It'll still be prevented by a mask and distancing,” said Giroir. “It is not more serious. In other words, you're no more likely to die or be hospitalized with this.”

Giroir said it is likely that the variant has been in the US for a while.

“It's very unlikely that it's rampant, but I think it's certainly been here,” he said.

3:59 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

“We need to be doing a better job” with Covid-19 vaccine rollout, US health official says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The US needs to be doing a better job with its Covid-19 vaccine rollout, Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir said Wednesday.

“Of course, we need to be doing a better job, but all vaccine programs start somewhat slow,” Giroir told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

He said he expects distribution to ramp up soon and that the US is on track to distribute 20 million vaccine doses by the first week of January.

“I know we will be distributing about 30 million more in January and potentially up to 50 million more in February,” he said.

As pharmacies begin to play a larger role in vaccine administration, Giroir said he expects the pace to quicken.

“We have a federal contract with 40,000 pharmacies – that’s 60% of all pharmacies in the US – to provide vaccines,” said Giroir. “The scale will go up very rapidly as things progress and evolve.”

“Vaccines on the shelf are no good,” he added. “They need to get in people's arms and we are leaving no stone unturned to do that.”

Some background: Operation Warp Speed is on track to fall well short of the 20 million vaccine shots they predicted would be administered by the end of December.

Nearly 2.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States, according to data given to CNN by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3:45 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

About 6,700 fans will be allowed at Buffalo Bills playoff game, governor says

Bills Stadium is seen before a game on December 13.
Bills Stadium is seen before a game on December 13. Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Approximately 6,700 fans will be allowed to attend the upcoming Buffalo Bills first playoff game, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Cuomo said the decision to allow fans at the first playoff game was an agreement between the New York Department of Health, the Buffalo Bills, and the National Football League.

All fans will need to be tested for Covid-19 before the game and anyone with a positive test will not be allowed to attend.

Every fan must wear a mask from when they leave their vehicle in the parking lot to when they reenter their vehicles to go home. All fans will be sitting in socially-distanced “pods” with the people they came with, Robert Mujica, New York State’s Budget Director, said Wednesday. 

No tailgating or congregating will be allowed. Following the game, contact-tracing will occur to monitor any possible spread of Covid-19, Cuomo said.

Any fans who refuse to comply will be removed from the premises, Dr. Howard Zucker, New York’s Health Commissioner, said Wednesday.

The outdoor, controlled venue at the upcoming Buffalo Bills game will serve as a “pilot” program to test ways the state can reopen businesses and events smartly and safety, Cuomo said.

3:42 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

McConnell takes definitive stance against moving forward on $2,000 Covid-19 stimulus checks

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Ali Zaslav 

Senate TV
Senate TV

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a definitive stance against moving forward on a House-passed bill to increase direct stimulus payments to $2,000, criticizing the policy and making it clear nothing will move forward in the chamber that doesn’t include President Trump’s other two priorities: a full repeal of online liability protections and an investigation into voter fraud. 

"The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. 

McConnell, on Tuesday, introduced legislation that combined the three Trump priorities – each a pre-requisite for Trump signing the Covid-19 relief and spending package earlier this week.

McConnell, on Wednesday, made clear that the introduction of that legislation met the contours of the agreement with Trump, which stipulated only starting the process to vote on the issues. 

As it currently stands, there are no votes scheduled on McConnell’s bill, or the House-passed legislation, and GOP aides say it’s likely the 116th Congress comes to an end without any action on increasing direct payments. 

The Kentucky Republican opened up his floor remarks Wednesday blasting Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders for holding up the NDAA override vote. 

“Today the Senate was supposed to finish legislation securing critical tools, training and support for America’s armed forces. But the junior senator from Vermont had other ideas,” he said.

McConnell added: "We'll stay on this important bill until we complete it, one way or another.”

Sanders has said he will delay the NDAA override vote unless McConnell brings a $2,000 checks to a vote on the floor. A final vote could stretch into Saturday if Sanders continues to hold it up. Eventually, though, it will pass. It's just a matter of how long this takes.

3:32 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

NBA announces zero new positive Covid-19 tests among players

From CNN's Jacob Lev 

Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images
Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images

The NBA says no players tested positive for Covid-19 during the league's latest testing window.

According to the league and the NBA Players Association, 495 tests have been administered since Dec. 24 with zero positive results for the virus.

The latest results are down from last week, in which two new players returned a positive test for Covid-19. 

3:20 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Belgium tightens rules for travelers to prevent spread of new Covid-19 variant 

From CNN’s James Frater

Travelers walk at Brussels Airport in Belgium after flights to the United Kingdom resumed on December 23.
Travelers walk at Brussels Airport in Belgium after flights to the United Kingdom resumed on December 23. Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Belgium has stepped up its rules for travelers arriving in the country to prevent the possible spread of the new variant of Covid-19, a press release from the prime minister's office said Wednesday.

These are the new measures:

  • Starting Thursday, there will now be a mandatory quarantine for anyone who has been outside of Belgium for more than 48 hours. 
  • There will be a mandatory test on day one and day seven of quarantine.
  • Quarantine can only end if a person receives a valid negative Covid-19 test result on day seven.
  • If a person tests positive on day seven, the clock resets and they have to quarantine for another seven days when you will again need to have a valid negative test.

This measure will provisionally apply until Jan. 15.

Belgium had imposed a partial travel ban on UK travelers from Dec. 23 to Dec. 31, which allowed some limited essential travel.

3:05 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

One person dies from coronavirus in Los Angeles County every 10 minutes

From CNN's Sarah Moon and Cheri Mossburg

The number of Covid-19 deaths reached a new high in California on Wednesday.

California recorded 432 new fatalities, the highest reported in a single day so far. In Southern California, Los Angeles County officials described the grim situation there in a tweet Wednesday, and said one person dies from Covid-19 every 10 minutes.

Some of these deaths are believed to be part of a backlog announced by Los Angeles Tuesday. The number of people who have died from the virus in the Golden State is nearly 25,000.

Gov. Gavin Newsom called the high number of fatalities “very, very sobering.”

California added 30,921 cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to more than 2.2 million Covid-19 infections. More than 746,000 of those are in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous. About 40% of Californians who died of Covid-19 lived in Los Angeles County.

Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions remain at an all-time high. ICU capacity is down to 0% statewide, with the brunt of the impact in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. Projections for each region show the demand for ICU beds exceeding capacity for at least the next four weeks.

There is some glimmer of optimism, as the positivity rate in California is showing a slight dip and has dropped to a two-week average of 12.2%. 

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