Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

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Federal government officials said the first 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be distributed to U.S. communities as early as December within 24 hours of approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

But the U.S. recorded its highest daily death toll since May on Tuesday, and experts warned that good vaccine news doesn’t mean Americans should let down their guard down over the holidays.

Several state restrictions go into effect Wednesday just hours before the Thanksgiving holiday, including a ban on alcohol sales at restaurants and bars in Pennsylvania. State health officials ordered restaurants and bars to not sell alcohol starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday until 8 a.m. Thursday in an effort to prevent social gatherings.

“It turns out the biggest day for drinking is the day before Thanksgiving,” Gov. Tom Wolf said at a news conference this week. “When people get together in that situation, it leads to the exchange of fluids that leads to the increase in infection.”

Overseas, British authorities relaxed restrictions on social gatherings to allow people to celebrate the Christmas holiday with friends and family. Officials in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland came up with a holiday plan to allow up to three households to create a “Christmas bubble” Dec. 23-27.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12.6 million cases and over 260,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 60 million cases and 1.4 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

📚What we’re reading: Here’s why this Harvard doctor is optimistic about US overcoming COVID-19 despite “epidemic of mistrust.”

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

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Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

An unidentified COVID-19 patient sits in a hospital bed on Friday, November, 6, 2020 at the El Paso LTAC hospital in central El Paso. Mark Lambie / El Paso TimesFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

A team of health care workers does a procedure on a patient with COVID-19 in UMass Memorial Medical Center – University Campus Wednesday, November 18, 2020. This group of nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists work on a floor of negative-pressure rooms treating 18 patients with COVID-19 requiring an intensive care unit level of care. T&G Staff/Rick CinclairFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

A COVID-19 patient on a ventilator lies in a negative air pressure room in a 12-bed intensive care unit Thursday, November 5, 2020 at UW Hospital in Madison, Wis. The U.S. is contending with its third, and worst, wave of the virus yet. On Wednesday for the first time, more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in a day. Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal SentinelFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

Registered Nurse Daniel Corral works with a COVID-19 patient Thursday, November, 6, 2020 at the El Paso LTAC Hospital. Mark Lambie / El Paso TimesFullscreenVentilator tubes are attached to a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2020. The surge of coronavirus is taking an increasingly grim toll across the United States, even as of a vaccine appears close at hand.Ventilator tubes are attached to a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2020. The surge of coronavirus is taking an increasingly grim toll across the United States, even as of a vaccine appears close at hand. Jae C. Hong, APFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

Registered nurses Daniele Payne, right, and Katie Zupek wearing powered air purifying respirators tend to a COVID-19 patient in a negative air pressure room in a 12-bed intensive care unit Thursday, November 5, 2020 at UW Hospital in Madison, Wis. Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal SentinelFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

The patient board at the El Paso LTAC Hospital identifies those infected with COVID-19. Mark Lambie / El Paso TimesFullscreenEMT Giselle Dorgalli, second from right, looks at a monitor while performing chest compression on a patient who tested positive for coronavirus in the emergency room at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.EMT Giselle Dorgalli, second from right, looks at a monitor while performing chest compression on a patient who tested positive for coronavirus in the emergency room at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Jae C. Hong, APFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

Medical staff members treat a patient suffering from coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on November 10, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Go Nakamura, Getty ImagesFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

Sparrow ICU nurses Mary-Jo Julin, left, and Lauren Brandon prepare to see a COVID-19 patient under their care, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, during their shift in the intensive care unit at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State JournalFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

Medical staff member Tanna Ingraham checks I.V. on a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 19, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Go Nakamura, Getty ImagesFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

A medical staff member works on a computer as the number on the wall indicates the days since the hospital opened its COVID-19 unit at United Memorial Medical center on November 14, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 1,070,000 cases, including over 19,900 deaths. Go Nakamura, Getty ImagesFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

Medical staff members insert a pipe into a vein of a patient suffering from coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at United Memorial Medical Center on November 16, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Go Nakamura, Getty ImagesFullscreen

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

Respiratory therapist Babu Paramban talks on the phone next to hospital beds while taking a break in the COVID-19 unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Jae C. Hong, APFullscreen

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Ravens-Steelers shifted from Thanksgiving to Sunday after outbreak

The NFL has moved Thursday’s featured game between the Baltimore Ravens and the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers to Sunday because of a coronavirus outbreak among the Ravens. The night matchup in Pittsburgh was one of three NFL games on Thanksgiving, but the only one pitting teams with winning records.

The Ravens canceled Tuesday’s practice after learning in the morning that additional players had tested positive for COVID-19, according to multiple reports. On Monday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh confirmed that running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins had tested positive for COVID-19. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams was also listed as a close contact and placed on the COVID-19 reserve list.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that five Ravens players and four staff members had tested positive this week.

This is the first time since Week 5 that the league has postponed a game because of COVID-19 concerns.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Grieving COVID loss, families prepare for Thanksgiving without loved ones

Katie Stoddard remembers getting a call in late March from her mother, who mentioned her father had a sore throat and mild fever. A few days later, both her parents couldn’t taste or smell. They went to see a doctor, but the prescription drugs didn’t seem to help. Two days later, her dad entered the intensive care unit. Six days later, he was dead.

“It was just so fast, and unexpected,” Stoddard said. “It was when we didn’t really realize how serious this thing was.”

As the virus surges and public health and government officials call on Americans to resist gathering for Thanksgiving, the nation marks another milestone in the fight against the coronavirus: more than 260,000 lives have been taken. Their families, who may not have even been able to gather to mourn their loved one, will be left to mark the holiday without them. 

Stoddard will forego a typical Thanksgiving gathering with family and spend the day with her boyfriend at home. Her parents often hosted Thanksgiving, as her father loved to cook. The holidays will be difficult without him, especially for her mother.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” she said. Read more here.

– Matthew Glowicki, Louisville Courier Journal

LA outdoor dining ban to go into effect

A reinstated ban on outdoor dining in Los Angeles County can go into effect Wednesday night, a judge ruled, after a restaurant industry group had tried to block the restriction.

The California Restaurant Association challenged the order issued Sunday that prohibited outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars, and asked county health officials to provide medical or scientific evidence that it poses an unreasonable risk to public health. The ban is supposed to last at least three weeks.

The county’s Board of Supervisors also considered blocking the ban but failed to garner enough support. The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of a resolution to urge county officials to rescind the ban but that vote was nonbinding.

The rule is now set to go into effect Wednesday at 10 p.m. and will limit restaurants in the nation’s most populous county to takeout and delivery. The county averaged more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases over a five-day period, triggering the restriction. 

US records highest daily death toll since May with more than 2,000

More than 2,100 people died in the U.S. because of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest daily death toll since May.

Deaths have been steadily rising since October but hadn’t surpassed 2,000 in a day since May 6, when more than 2,300 people died, according to Johns Hopkins data.

The at least 2,146 people who died Tuesday translates to roughly one death every 40 seconds in the United States. More than 172,000 new cases were added Tuesday, too, according to Hopkins data.

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Without masks and a vaccine, we could reach Herd Immunity from COVID-19, but deaths would skyrocket. We break down the science of it.

USA TODAY

Fauci has a final Thanksgiving message for Americans

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, issued his final Thanksgiving message for Americans as COVID-19 cases surge and dinner tables are still expected to fill up.

“The final message is to do what really we’ve been saying now for some time, is to the extent possible, keep the gatherings, the indoor gatherings, as small as you possibly can,” Fauci said Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”

“By making that sacrifice, you’re going to prevent people from getting infected,” he added. “A sacrifice now could save lives and illness and make the future much brighter as we get through this.”

27 virus deaths at Illinois veterans nursing home

Illinois officials will investigate a COVID-19 outbreak at a state-run veterans nursing home after 27 veterans died and nearly 200 residents and staff members tested positive.

Illinois’ Department of Veterans’ Affairs requested an independent probe into the facility after the outbreak was first spotted in late October.

“The tragedy of what has unfolded at the veterans’ home cannot be understated,” said State Senator Sue Rezin, who represents the district where the home is located.

Europe’s virus cases are slowing

The World Health Organization said COVID-19 cases in Europe are slowing down despite it still being the region with the biggest proportion of new cases and deaths around the world.

New cases dropped by 6% in Europe over the last week, the WHO said. And that’s after a 10% decline the previous week. However, the virus death rate continues to rise, and more than 67,000 new deaths were reported.

    France: President Emmanuel Macron laid out new rules Tuesday to ease France’s partial shutdown. They include allowing the reopening of some shops and houses of worship next week while indoor dining and gyms remain shuttered.Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to extend Germany’s partial shutdown into December. The restrictions have slowed a virus spike, but cases remain at high levels rather than sinking lower.

Singapore nearly virus free

Once a hotspot of cases in southeast Asia, Singapore is virtually virus free after Tuesday marked 14 days without a new local case, Reuters reported.

A few infections from abroad have been recorded, but people in those cases have been immediately isolated. Many cases in Singapore have been tied to infections at dormitories for foreign workers, the news agency reported.

Tuesday also marked the first time there were no live infection clusters across Singapore, Reuters reported. 

The country was one of the first outside of China to report a COVID-19 infection, but it has staved off the worst of the virus and has the lowest case fatality rate in the world, according to Johns Hopkins data.

CDC pondering quarantine reduction to 7-10 days, report says

In an effort to encourage compliance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may reduce the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to the coronavirus from 14 days to seven to 10, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper said agency officials are putting the final touches on the recommendation, which would require a negative COVID test for the exposed person to exit quarantine.

Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for COVID-19 response, told the Journal that studies have shown effective quarantines can be done in less time than the currently recommended two weeks. Although there’s a chance some infections could be missed, he said there’s a valuable tradeoff to be gained.

“Hopefully people would be better able to adhere to quarantine if it was, for example, seven to 10 days,” he said. 

— Jorge L. Ortiz  

New Mexico approves $330M relief bill, including stimulus checks

New Mexico lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill that will deliver a one-time $1,200 check to all types of unemployed workers and up to $50,000 for certain businesses.

The bill also provides smaller stimulus checks to immigrants without legal status in the country and dependents, as well as additional funds for food banks, virus testing and contact tracing efforts.

Most of the proposed spending will be made possible by federal relief funding previously assigned to New Mexico, including around $319 million in unspent funds that were expected to expire soon. An additional $10 million in state general funds were allocated for testing and tracing efforts.

The bill allocates $100 million to support businesses with 100 or fewer employees. The New Mexico Finance Authority is tasked with distributing the grants, which can be up to $50,000, and has wide discretion about whom to choose. It’s instructed to focus on the service industry.

Texas judge implements new shelter-at-home curfew in El Paso

Judge Ricardo Samaniego implemented a new curfew to combat the surge of COVID-19 cases in El Paso, Texas. The 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew goes into effect Wednesday and will last until Monday.

However, unlike his previous curfew, people would not be barred from going to businesses outside those hours, Samaniego told the El Paso Times on Monday.

The curfew sends a message that “we are serious about this and have to do something” to curb the rise in cases, he said. Even if the COVID-19 numbers go down, it’s still a serious problem in El Paso County based on existing cases, he said.

“It is a shelter-at-home order. Residents are encouraged to stay at home,” Samaniego said. “We want no more than 10 people to gather together in public or at home.”

– Aaron A. Bedoya, El Paso Times

Coronavirus updates: US hits highest daily death toll since May; NFL postpones Thanksgiving game; 6.4M vaccine doses likely in December

A sign at the entrance to a park on Tuesday warns pedestrians about increased risk for the coronavirus in the Ironbound section of Newark, N.J. (Photo: Seth Wenig, AP)

OANN suspended from YouTube for COVID misinformation

One America News Network, a right-wing cable network touted by President Donald Trump, has been suspended from YouTube after repeatedly posting misinformation about COVID-19.

“After careful review, we removed a video from OANN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming there’s a guaranteed cure,” Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson, said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY.

Citing repeated violations of YouTube’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, Choi said OANN’s account has also been suspended from the program that allows it to monetize its channel.

The network, also known as OAN, has developed a reputation for airing baseless conspiracy theories and spreading false information, including about COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election.

– Joel Shannon

Tennessee won’t mandate COVID vaccine in K-12 schools

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccines will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools once they become available.

The Republican governor said vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the spread of the virus. However, it is a choice he believes people should make on their own.

“Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine,” he said.

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines could be available to residents as soon as Dec. 15. Front-line health care workers and first responders will receive the first wave of vaccines.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

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