Pfizer and Moderna have both announced promising results in the phase 3 trials of their COVID-19 vaccines. Here’s how they differ.
A “uniform approach” to the coronavirus pandemic is needed to replace the uneven response that has fueled a dangerous surge in hospitalizations and deaths across the nation, the top U.S. infectious disease expert said Tuesday.
“We need some fundamental public health measures that everyone should be adhering to, not a disjointed, ‘one state says one thing, the other state says another thing,’” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a conference sponsored by The New York Times.
The Trump administration, however, has left the issue to states while encouraging them to keep businesses and schools open. Facing spiraling coronavirus numbers and with a contentious Election Day now in the rearview mirror, Republican governors have begun grudgingly lining up behind their Democratic colleagues in tightening restrictions aimed at taming the pandemic.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ plan, effective Tuesday, requires everyone 2 and older to wear a face covering when in an indoor space open to the public. Reynolds also limited bars and restaurants to 6 a.m.-10 p.m., except for carryout and drive-through service.
Reynolds, who in the past has dismissed masks as a “feel good” effort, said Tuesday masks are effective but not a “silver bullet.”
“There is science on both sides,” Reynolds said. “If you look you can find whatever you want to support wherever you’re at. Hopefully when we get to Christmas we will be able to gather again with our families.”
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 11.2 million cases and more than 247,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 55 million cases and 1.3 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is quarantining after several members of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19, the governor’s office said Tuesday.
Both the governor and First Lady Janet Holcomb began their quarantine Tuesday at the direction of Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box. They are considered close contacts to the security detail and will be tested later in the week for coronavirus.
The Indiana State Department of Health will perform the contact tracing for the governor, First Lady and members of the security detail, according to the governor’s office.
— Lawrence Andrea, Indianapolis Star
The City of New Orleans announced that Mardi Gras parades will not be allowed in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The guidelines are very clear that you can’t have a gathering that large,” said Beau Tidwell, communications director for the City of New Orleans, at a press conference on Tuesday.
Under current guidelines, outdoor gatherings in the city are limited to 150 people.
At the start of the pandemic in March, New Orleans COVID-19 numbers spiked and the city became one of the early hot spots in the United States.
Many experts blamed the outbreak on the city’s Carnival celebration for drawing more than 1 million visitors to New Orleans, which contributed to the spread of the virus. The Carnival season ended last year on Feb. 25. The city’s first presumptive case of COVID-19 was March 9.
— Todd A. Price, The American South
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced new statewide mitigation measures Tuesday. The restrictions, effective Nov. 20, are aimed at preventing between 17,000 and 45,000 projected additional deaths between now and March, Pritzker said.
“This is not a stay-at-home order, but the best way for us to avoid a stay-at-home order is to stay at home. We are asking you to choose Zoom instead of packing people in a room on Thanksgiving,” Pritzker said.
The new measures affect retail, gyms, hotels, bars, restaurants, manufacturing, offices and more.
Pritzker said he would be celebrating Thanksgiving in Chicago with his son, while his wife and daughter stay in Florida. “The situation is simply too grave for me to be elsewhere,” he said. “My family is having to make sacrifices to stay safe.”
New COVID-19 deaths are up 260% since Oct. 1, Pritzker said.
— Grace Hauck
The “overwhelming majority” of Americans, more than 75%, must get inoculated with an effective vaccine to bring a halt to the public health challenges presented by the coronavirus, Fauci warned. He urged for an end to the controversies surrounding masks and for people to trust that vaccines will be proven safe and effective before they are widely distributed. United, the country could return to near-normal by autumn, he suggested.
“We’ve got to get public health issues out of the realm of political divisiveness — this is not a political issue,” he said. “We’ve got to do everything we possibly can to pull together as a nation.”
Reynolds isn’t the only Republican governor to yield to the pleas of public health experts. Ohio’s Mike DeWine, West Virginia’s Jim Justice, Utah’s Gary Herbert and North Dakota’s Doug Burgham, Republican governors all, have issued mask mandates in recent days. California, New York, Michigan, Virginia and Hawaii are among Democratic-led states that have toughened restrictions. A recurring theme: State health care system “being pushed to the brink.” Current COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide have surpassed 70,000 for the first time.
“We’re going to dial up and dial back depending on where our numbers are at,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “Right now, we are really stressing our hospitals and their capacity.”
For families with young children that have decided to fly for the holidays, the biggest challenge might not be packing gifts, finding COVID-19-safe airport transportation or herding the whole clan to the gate. Rather, it could making sure fidgety toddlers wear their face masks in the terminal and during the flight due to the widespread rule among airlines that even young children are required to keep masks on during flights. There is little variation between carriers when it comes to firm written policies. One exception is Delta Air Lines, with a policy that states “young children who cannot maintain a face covering are exempt from the mask requirement.”
Reina Nishida’s Ottotto Threads business now thrives by sewing masks that cater to kids: “If you let your kids pick the print, they will be more inclined to wear them.”
To avoid delayed gifts or sold-out stock, experts recommend starting your holiday shopping sooner rather than later. Shipping delays have been a recurring theme for online shopping since the pandemic began, and experts say that trend will continue through the holiday season. Karl Haller, partner and retail industry expert at IBM Global Business Services, advises that if you see something you know you want “go ahead and buy it.” Some shipping deadlines suggested by the Postal Service include retail ground by Dec. 15, first-class mail by Dec. 18, priority mail by Dec. 19 and priority mail express by Dec. 13.
“We expect to see continued pressure on shipping as more packages flow through the system,” Haller said. “We have already seen some of the major carriers impose fees on package shipping in anticipation of this.”
– Amanda Tarlton, Reviewed.com
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday he is in quarantine while awaiting test results following an exposure to the coronavirus. Grassley, 87, is president tempore of the Senate and thus behind only the vice president and House speaker in the succession line to the presidency. Grassley said he plans to continue working virtually from home, and his spokesman, Michael Zona, said Grassley can participate in nearly all Senate business aside from voting.
“I learned today that I’ve been exposed to the coronavirus,” Grassley said in a statement. “I will follow my doctors’ orders and immediately quarantine as I await my test results. I’m feeling well and not currently experiencing any symptoms, but it’s important we all follow public health guidelines to keep each other healthy.”
– Stephen Gruber-Miller, Des Moines Register
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced Tuesday that he will participate in a phase 3 vaccine trial being managed in Cincinnati. The more people Johnson & Johnson can line up for the trial, the sooner they complete testing and begin the FDA approval process, he said. Portman, 64, stressed that the clinical trials are critical to verifying the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines and making them available as soon as possible.
“I hope that my participation in the Janssen-Johnson & Johnson phase 3 vaccine trial will encourage others to participate as well & help Americans feel confident of the safety & effectiveness of vaccines once they are authorized by the FDA,” Portman tweeted.
Families are hanging up holiday lights and putting out decorations before carving turkeys for Thanksgiving. Festive lights – already known to be able to elevate a person’s mood – could take on an outsized role during the coronavirus pandemic, with families more unlikely to travel to see loved ones. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg lit up the city’s River Walk early, saying he has a hunch the outdoor display will have an even bigger draw than in years when inside activities aren’t restricted.
“On the surface, the first thing that you could argue, easily, is that lights, which obviously are associated with joy, and bring back a lot of good memories, are a way of alleviating depression, sadness, feeling down, anxiety, stress,” said Dr. Krystine Batcho, professor of psychology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. “All the things the pandemic has increased.”
In Hungary, public health officials warned that a lack of medical staff qualified to treat coronavirus patients in intensive care units could soon lead to soaring deaths. In France, intensive care wards have been operating at over 95% capacity for almost two weeks. In South Korea, social distancing rules were tightened in the greater Seoul area to try to suppress a coronavirus resurgence there. In Greece, a 62-year-old clergyman in the Orthodox Church has died of COVID-19, reviving a debate over the safety of receiving communion as the Christmas season beckons. Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas was an outspoken advocate of maintaining communion ceremonies.
The nation’s tension over wearing masks reached the Senate floor Monday night when Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, asked Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who was presiding over the Senate at the time, if he would wear a mask. Brown started to say that he knows he can’t tell Sullivan what to do, but the Republican cut him off, telling him that “I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking like most senators…I don’t need your instruction.”
Brown later tweeted that he wanted senators to “stop endangering all the Senate workers.” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chimed in on Facebook: “This is idiotic. Sherrod Brown is being a complete ass. He wears a mask to speak – when nobody is remotely near him – as an ostentatious sign of fake virtue.”
– Sarah Elbeshbishi
Two big companies leading the race for a vaccine have released promising results from their Phase 3 trials. Here’s what we know about both trials and what they might mean for the future of the pandemic:
Preliminary results indicate Moderna’s vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective; Pfizer’s more than 90% effective. Both candidate vaccines reported mild or moderate side effects, mostly pain at the injection site, fatigue and aching muscles and joints for a day or two. The FDA is expected to an issue an emergency for use authorization for at least one vaccine by year’s end, with front-line health care workers first in line to get it. Clinical trial data showing how people of various ages, ethnicities and health statuses responded will determine recommendations on how to prioritize shots. Scientists have predicted vaccines won’t be available to all until next summer or fall.
– Adrianna Rodriguez, Karen Weintraub
The lack of coordination with the Trump administration on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest threat facing his transition, President-elect Joe Biden says. Biden’s transition to the White House has been complicated by President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the Nov. 3 election. Biden said the U.S. must determine how to prioritize who most needs a vaccine and coordinate distribution with the rest of the world.
“We’re going into a very dark winter,” Biden said. “Things are going to get tougher before they get easier.”
– Bart Jansen
Stanford University is taking issue with comments made by Dr. Scott Atlas, a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and a senior fellow at the university, about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new COVID restrictions. Atlas called on Michigan residents to “rise up” against Whitmer’s order to suspend in-person schooling, halt indoor dining at restaurants and close some businesses. The school said in a statement on Twitter that his views are “inconsistent with the university’s approach” to the pandemic.
“Stanford’s position on managing the pandemic in our community is clear,” the tweet said. “We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing. We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”
COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.
The evidence increasingly shows young people are not immune to the coronavirus. The number of U.S. infants, children and teens diagnosed with COVID-19 has surpassed 1 million, according to data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The total hit nearly 1.04 million kids on Nov. 12, including nearly 112,000 new cases last week. That was the highest weekly total of any previous week in the pandemic, the academy said.
AAP President Sally Goza called the data “staggering and tragic.” Children generally are much more likely than adults to have mild cases but hospitalizations and deaths do occur. According to data from state health departments that’s missing some states, at least 6,330 pediatric hospitalizations and 133 deaths have been recorded since May.
Screenings for COVID-19 at airports are labor-intensive and ineffective, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concludes.
A program instituted by the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security conducted more than 766,000 screenings among travelers from certain countries arriving at designated U.S. airports from Jan. 17-Sept. 13. Of those screened for symptoms, 298 were referred for a health assessment, 35 were tested for the coronavirus and only nine came out positive. That factors out to one positive result for every 85,000 screenings.
“The low case detection rate of this resource-intensive program highlighted the need for fundamental change in the U.S. border health strategy,” the report said. “Because SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission can occur in the absence of symptoms and because the symptoms of COVID-19 are nonspecific, symptom-based screening programs are ineffective for case detection.”
The screening program ended Sept. 14 and was replaced by efforts to promote prevention among travelers and improving public health response at ports of entry.
Large parts of California are closing shop. Nearly three-quarters of the counties — home to 94.1% of the state’s population — will be required to operate under the state’s most stringent pandemic restrictions, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. Indoor dining, gyms and movie theaters, among other businesses, must either remain closed or shut down in 41 of the state’s 58 counties, beginning Tuesday.
Newsom said he is “sounding the alarm” due to “the fastest increase California has seen” since the pandemic began, with COVID-19 cases doubling in the last 10 days. Cases rose 51.3% in the first week of November. California hit 1 million coronavirus cases last week, joining Texas as the only states to reach the undesired milestone.
Under the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which is its four-tiered, color-coded system for reopening, the state can tighten restrictions based on emergency situations.
– Nicole Hayden, Palm Springs Desert Sun
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/11/17/covid-news-hawaii-iowa-mask-mandates-richard-schiff/6318450002/