Saturday, November 28, 2020

Children not immune; CDC on airport temperature checks

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Pfizer and Moderna have both announced promising results in the phase 3 trials of their COVID-19 vaccines. Here’s how they differ.

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Facing spiraling coronavirus numbers and with a contentious Election Day now in the rearview mirror, Republican governors are 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.

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.

Reynolds, like her counterparts, cited the state’s health care system “being pushed to the brink.” Current COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide have surpassed 70,000 for the first time.

“I cherish Thanksgiving with my family,” Reynolds said Monday. “And this year we’re postponing that. My children and grandchildren will not gather together in my home as we do every year and as I had hoped that we would do this year. But it’s to keep them safe, and it’s to keep you safe.”

📈 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.

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Senators clash over wearing masks while speaking

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

Vaccine timeline: Summer or fall for most of us

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

Biden warns of ‘dark winter,’ urges White House to aid transition

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 rebukes professor’s attack on Michigan Gov. Whitmer

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.”

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COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.

USA TODAY

More than 1M US teens, children have been infected

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.

Airport screenings ‘ineffective,’ CDC study shows

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.

California toughens restrictions amid ‘fastest increase’

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 costs Alaska more than 3,000 oil, gas jobs

Alaska has lost more than 3,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry since January because of the coronavirus pandemic and falling prices, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Experts said that because oil prices are now stagnant, it’s not clear when the jobs may return, Alaska Public Media reported last week. That was coupled with a price war leading to a surplus of oil on the global market. A key benchmark for oil prices then fell into negative territory for the first time.

While predictions are difficult, a significant increase in oil revenue and jobs is not expected soon. “Unless oil prices get back to some very, very high level, I don’t see anything on the horizon that thousands … of jobs are going to get created in Alaska over the next year or two years,” said Mouhcine Guettabi, an economist at the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research.

Hawaii ‘clarifies’ mask mandate to include all counties

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Monday signed an emergency proclamation that “clarified” and extended the mask mandate to include everyone in the state.

“All persons in the State shall wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in public” except children under the age of 5 and individuals with disabilities or a medical condition, according to the new order.

Ige’s previous statewide mask mandate caused confusion among health and state officials because of exemptions among the state’s four counties, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The new order also says businesses “shall” refuse service to people who refuse to wear a face covering. All hotel operators are now required to “adopt a COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan for each property.”

‘Good Doctor’ star Richard Schiff hospitalized for COVID

“The Good Doctor” star Richard Schiff, who tweeted last week that he and his wife had tested positive for coronavirus, followed up Monday by reporting that he’s in the hospital being treated for COVID-19.

In a tweet thanking people for “love and support,” “The West Wing” alum said he’s taking remdesivir and steroids, both treatments for the viral illness, and is receiving oxygen. He offers a hopeful prognosis, saying that he’s “showing some improvement every day.” 

Schiff’s wife, actress and “Good Doctor” co-star Sheila Kelley, “Is home and doing better but still fairly ill,” wrote the actor, who revealed in his earlier tweet that he learned of his positive diagnosis on Election Day.

In Schiff’s initial coronavirus-related tweet on Nov. 10, the actor called the time since the Election Day diagnoses “the most bizarre week of our lives.” He acknowledged the situation as “tough. We are determined to find a way to health again. We root for everyone out there who are struggling with this thing. Love from here.”

– Bill Keveney

Washington state wedding sparks coronavirus worry

Washington state health officials are asking more than 300 attendees of a wedding this month to quarantine and get tested for COVID-19 after several people tested positive.

The Grant County Health District said in a news release Monday that 17 county residents tested positive and have been linked to two subsequent outbreaks. Officials said they’re alerting the public because it will be difficult to find every person who attended the wedding.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday announced coronavirus restrictions that include a limit of 30 people for ceremonies. As of Monday, there has been a total of 131,500 cases and 2,548 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.

Dow hits record on reignited vaccine hopes

U.S. stocks catapulted to records Monday on news that a second COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed promise, bolstering hopes of an economic recovery even as new infections surged around the world.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 470.63 points, or 1.6%, to finish at a new all-time high of 29,950.44, eclipsing its Feb. 12 record close before the coronavirus pandemic battered the global economy. The S&P 500 added 1.2% to 3,626.91, notching another record. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.8% to 11,924.13, lagging the rest of the market amid lessened interest for tech stocks.

The Dow rose to a record for the first time in nine months after pharmaceutical company Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data. Markets rallied as they did when Pfizer and BioNTech said earlier this month that their potential vaccine had a similar effectiveness rate.

– Jessica Menton

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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