California adds restrictions; Moderna vaccine results
The results are preliminary, but they are encouraging: Another candidate vaccine has proven extremely effective against COVID-19. Moderna, working with the federal government, has early results that show a 94.5% efficacy rate for its shots.
It’s the latest good news on the vaccine front. Earlier this month, Pfizer/BioNTech released results indicating their candidate was 90% effective.
The encouraging developments are desperately needed at a time when many states are taking increasingly stringent measures to combat a rise in new COVID-19 cases. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that 41 counties — home to about 37 million people — would move into the most restrictive tier in the state’s reopening system. On Sunday, Michigan and Washington also announced new restrictions.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on NBC’s “Today” show that the news from Moderna “is really quite impressive.” He said the Moderna and Pfizer news “is something that foretells an impact on this outbreak.”
“So now we have two vaccines that are really quite effective, so I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be about getting control with this outbreak,” Fauci said, predicting vaccines for those at high-risk could be available by the end of December.
All vaccines, once administered, are expected to cause sore arms and a day or two of fatigue and flu-like symptoms. Before the companies can apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for authorization to provide their vaccine to the public, they must jump through several more hurdles.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 11.1 million cases and more than 247,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 54.8 million cases and 1.32 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
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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
The college athletics ruling body said Monday it plans to move the 2021 March Madness from its usual multi-venue format to a single-site location in an attempt to safely conduct the event that crowns the season’s Division I national champion. The 2020 tournament was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It became apparent to the committee that conducting the championship at 13 preliminary round sites spread throughout the country would be very difficult to execute in the current pandemic environment,” the NCAA said in a new release. “The committee has decided the championship should be held in a single geographic area to enhance the safety and well-being of the event.”
That locale is expected to be Indianapolis, where the Final Four was scheduled to take place April 3 and 5, although the NCAA has yet to confirm that decision.
– Chris Bumbaca
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.
Four rural states west of the Mississippi River that have Republican governors lead the list of states with the most new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over the last week.
North Dakota sits at the top, followed by South Dakota, Iowa and Wyoming. Public health experts say President Donald Trump’s frequent refusal to wear a mask in public and his repeated rallies after getting infected and hospitalized have sent a powerful message to his supporters and made it harder for state and local officials to convice residents to take the virus seriously, especially in areas with an anti-government bent.
“For this region, it’s, ‘I’m going to do what I want to and don’t tell me what to do,'” said Michael Skinner, 32, a resident of Cheyenne, Wyoming, recovering from COVID-19. “Some habits are hard to break.”
On Monday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds gave in to persistent calls for a statewide mask mandate, although it includes several exemptions.
– Trevor Hughes
With new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continuing to rise in Ohio, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus is opening its services to adults to help handle the increasing demand for care at medical facilities.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital said in a statement that starting Monday it would admit patients 26 and under who don’t have COVID-19 and have a referral from specific healthcare systems.
Max Filby, The Columbus Dispatch
Not even WHO is immune: 65 staffers infected
The World Health Organization has recorded 65 cases of the coronavirus among staff based at its Geneva headquarters, including at least one cluster of infections, an internal email obtained by The Associated Press shows. The agency has made public assertions that there has been no transmission at the Geneva site.
The email said about half of the infections were in people who had been working from home. But 32 were in staff who had been working on premises at the headquarters building, indicating that the health agency’s strict hygiene, screening and other prevention measures were not sufficient to spare it from the pandemic.
Costco will no longer make an exemption for people who say they can’t wear a face covering because of a medical condition.
The wholesale club’s updated face mask policy went into effect Monday and requires all members, guests and employees to wear a face mask or a face shield to shop in its nearly 560 clubs nationwide.
“If a member has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they must wear a face shield at Costco,” the retailer’s president and CEO Craig Jelinek wrote in a letter to members, noting entry to Costco “will only be granted to those wearing a face mask or face shield.”
– Kelly Tyko
Dr. Scott Atlas, a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, faced heavy criticism after he told Michiganders to “rise up” in a tweet in response to the new COVID-19 restrictions announced by the state’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday.
Whitmer held a news conference to announce that, because of the rising rate of COVID-19 infections, she was suspending in-person classes for school and college, as well as indoor dining, for three weeks.
“The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept,” Atlas tweeted shortly after Whitmer’s announcement. The tweet echoed Trump’s controversial call on April 17 to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” in the face of similar restrictions.
Atlas later clarified Monday that he was not advocating violence. But many criticized his choice of words regarding a state where armed protesters against coronavirus measures at one time flooded the state Capitol, and where an armed group recently targeted Whitmer in a kidnapping plot that was foiled by the FBI. What’s happening in your state? Check the list.
– William Cummings
A second COVID-19 candidate vaccine looks to be even more effective than the first, with both protecting more than 90% of those who get the shots.
Moderna, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, announced early Monday that its candidate vaccine, mRNA-1273, developed in collaboration with the U.S. government, appears to be 94.5% effective against the disease.
Earlier this month, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced early effectiveness data, showing their vaccine, called BNT162b2, had protected more than 90% of those who received it.
Both results are preliminary, with final results expected in as soon as a few weeks.
– Karen Weintraub
I volunteered for Moderna’s COVID vaccine trial:Here’s why I think I got the vaccine, not placebo.
Donald Trump faces criticism for delaying COVID handoff
President Donald Trump faced mounting criticism for continuing to focus his messages on the election and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud while sidestepping the resurgent coronavirus pandemic raging across the country.
Almost 170,000 new infections were reported Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University – the 12th day in a row the count surpassed 100,000. Before that, the U.S. had never before reached six figures.
Public health officials said they are eager to begin briefing Biden’s team. Biden campaign officials are prohibited from interacting with agency leaders, including those at public health agencies, until the Trump administration formally recognizes the outcome of the election – a recognition that has not yet taken place.
– John Fritze
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is as “fit as a butcher’s dog” after being instructed to self-isolate for 14 days after recent contact with someone who contracted the coronavirus. Johnson posted a video message Monday in which he said he was quarantining despite being “bursting with antibodies.” He developed COVID-19 in April and spent three days in the ICU.
Last week, Johnson met with a small group of lawmakers for about 30 minutes, including one who subsequently developed symptoms and tested positive. The quarantine requirement comes at the start of a crucial week that includes discussions over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.
Contributing: The Associated Press