The Latest: Birx says Americans must be strict for pandemic
A student checks the time as others wait for the start of the annual college entrance examination amid the coronavirus pandemic at an exam hall in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. South Korean officials are urging people to remain at home if possible and cancel gatherings as about half a million students prepare for a crucial national college exam.
Ng Han Guan
Zhong Hanneng holds a photo of her son, Peng Yi, and talks about his difficulties in getting tested for COVID-19, eventually dying from the disease, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. “There were very, very few tests, basically none. ... if you couldn’t prove you were positive, you couldn’t get admitted to a hospital. ... The doctor said there was nothing that could be done.”
Army medical personnel, wearing a protective suit, works at a quick coronavirus testing area which was set up to ease the pressure on hospital emergency wards, following the surge of COVID-19 case numbers, in Milan, Italy, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020The central government has put under partial lockdown some regions where the rate of virus transmission is particularly high and hospitals are running out of staff or space for patients, including in Lombardy, the northern region where the pandemic first erupted in Italy in February.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais
FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2010, file photo President Barack Obama, center, walks out of the Oval Office of the White House with former Presidents Bill Clinton, left, and George W. Bush, right, to deliver remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. Three former presidents say they'd be willing to take a coronavirus vaccine publicly, once one becomes available, to encourage all Americans to get inoculated against a disease that has already killed more than 273,000 people nationwide.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic, at Downing Street in London, Wednesday Dec. 2, 2020. British regulators have become the first nation to authorize use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by drugmaker Pfizer and BioNTech, and the U.K. has put in orders for 40 million doses, enough to inoculate 20 million people.
Patty Hesse, right, helps Barbara Canwell get started on her Christmas centerpiece at the Station House Community Center in Oxford, Maine, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. The Oxford Recreation Department holds craft sessions every week on Wednesday afternoons, open to all.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2019 file photo, Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer, prepares to testify before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug prices, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Bourla urged global governments not to reopen economies too quickly because of the optimism created by possible COVID-19 vaccines. He says the vaccine is one tool in controlling the disease. Bourla was speaking Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, during an online event hosted in his native Greece.
People wearing face masks watch maple trees illuminated for the fall foliage season at Otaguro Park in Tokyo on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.
Parents pray during a special service to wish for their children's success in the college entrance exams at the Jogyesa Buddhist temple in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including dozens of confirmed COVID-19 patients, took the highly competitive university entrance exam Thursday despite a viral resurgence that forced authorities to toughen social distancing rules.
FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo, Deb Dalsing, nurse manager of the COVID-19 treatment unit at UW Health assists nurse Ainsley Billesbach with her personal protective equipment at the hospital in Madison, Wis. U.S. hospitals slammed with COVID-19 patients are trying to lure nurses and doctors out of retirement and recruiting nursing students and new graduates who have yet to earn their licenses.
A view of the restorated path in front of the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis hill, in Athens, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Acropolis became fully accessible for people with disabilities after a restoration of the pathways and the inauguration of a new elevator.
Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), takes part in a press briefing on the current Covid 19 situation in Germany in Berlin, Thursday, Dec.3, 2020.
Santa Claus adjusts his protective face shield between visits from children and their families at Bass Pro Shops, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Miami. This is Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age, where visits are done with layers of protection or moved online. Putting hundreds of kids a day onto your lap to talk directly into your face — that's not happening.
A refrigerated truck drives out of the Pfizer Manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium, on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British officials on Wednesday authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, greenlighting the world's first shot against the virus that's backed by rigorous science and taking a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.
FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2020 file photo, a health worker administers the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine currently on phase III clinical trials to Cem Gun, an Emergency Medicine Physician, at the Acibadem Hospital in Istanbul, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. Turkish health minister Fahrettin Koca, who had previously announced an agreement with Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech for 50 million doses of CoronaVac, said in a statement late Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, that the first shipment of the inactivated vaccine will arrive in Turkey after Dec. 11.
Shrewsbury Town's Charlie Daniels, center, takes a throw-in as the fans watch during Championship soccer match at Montgomery Waters Meadow, Shrewsbury, England, Wednesday Dec. 2, 2020. A small number of fans are being welcomed back into soccer games as the second national lockdown is relaxed Wednesday, with COVID-19 numbers closely watched during the restriction change.
El presidente mexicano Andrés Manuel López Obrador encabeza la ceremonia con motivo del segundo año de asumir la Presidencia del país, en el Palacio Nacional en Ciudad de México, el martes 1 de diciembre de 2020.
The construction of a planned vaccination center is presented by the Berlin authorities during a media event at the 'Arena Berlin' event venue in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Berlin city authorites will set up six vaccine center until the end of the month.
Admiral Brett Giroir, the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, elbow bumps Pharmacist Stacey LaBorde as the two meet at LaPharmacy in Elmwood, La., to discuss the coronavirus vaccine distribution on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.
People eat outside in Covent Garden market, as non-essential shops are allowed to reopen after England's second lockdown ended in London, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission Wednesday for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, the world's first coronavirus shot that's backed by rigorous science -- and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.
Erica Stowe delivers groceries and balloons to a student, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Ann Arbor, Mich. A group of parents has come together to help support University of Michigan students while they are sick or quarantining. The group of mostly moms was started and is organized by Sherry Levine of Rye Brook, New York, who's also a mother of a Michigan student. After she spread the word on parent pages on Facebook, local volunteers stepped up to help fulfill student requests by dropping off groceries or supplies.
Timothy D. Easley
Owners of The Black Italian restaurant and catering service, Paula Hunter, right, and her husband Anthony Hunter in their empty restaurant in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. The Hunter's spun off their catering service into a restaurant but now, hit with a recent statewide order closing restaurants to indoor dining until mid-December, the couple is hoping for another round of federal aid to hang on until vaccines can conquer the virus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced start of large-scale vaccination of medics and teachers against COVID next week. Speaking during an online meeting dedicated to inauguration of new hospitals for coronavirus patients built by Russian Defense Ministry, Putin said Russia has enough capacity to start "large-scale" vaccination of teachers and doctors.
FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2020, file photo, marks are seen on the face of registered nurse Shelly Girardin as she removes a protective mask after performing rounds in a COVID-19 unit at Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, Mo. Across the U.S., the surge has swamped hospitals with patients and left nurses and other health care workers shorthanded and burned out.
A visiter wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus looks at her smartphone as she walks in the GUM State Department store decorated for Christmas and New Year celebrations virtually empty due to the coronavirus pandemic in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Russia's coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V will be available for people in high-risk groups at 70 medical facilities in Moscow starting on Saturday. According to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, those working in education and medical facilities, along with municipal workers, can get the shots.
In this image made from UNTV video, United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkır speaks during the U.N. General Assembly's special session to discuss the response to COVID-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic, Thursday, Dec. 3,2020, at U.N. headquarters, in New York.
Wreaths lie atop the new graves of recent fatalities of the coronavirus pandemic in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Greece has been battling a resurgence of the virus that has led to record numbers of daily deaths. A nationwide lockdown imposed in early November has been extended until Dec. 7.
FILE - This March 29, 2018 file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. Facebook said Thursday Dec. 3, 2020, it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, in its latest move to counter a tide of coronavirus-related online misinformation.
Healthcare workers protest coronavirus pandemic working conditions at Sunrise hospital Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Las Vegas.
Volunteer Erica Stowe packs groceries and balloons into her vehicle, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Ann Arbor, Mich. A group of parents has come together to help support University of Michigan students while they are sick or quarantining. The group of mostly moms was started and is organized by Sherry Levine of Rye Brook, New York, who's also a mother of a Michigan student. After she spread the word on parent pages on Facebook, local volunteers stepped up to help fulfill student requests by dropping off groceries or supplies.
People wear face masks but stand close together as they wait for a subway train in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.
A man wearing a protective mask waits for a city bus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown.
A patron at the Harmony Emporium makes her way past the tie-dye shorts after making a purchase on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in Harmony, Pa. Many smaller businesses hope to see a boost on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, traditionally known as Small Business Saturday.
A student pulls out her test ID from her bag before entering a high school to take the college entrance exam in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. South Korean officials urged on Wednesday people to remain at home if possible and cancel gatherings as about half a million students prepare for the crucial national college exam.
Jae C. Hong
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2020, file photo, student nurse Ryan Eachus collects forms as cars line up for COVID-19 testing at a testing site set at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Calif. California reported more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, shattering the previous record of 18,350 cases just a week ago. Overall, California has reported more than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 19,300 deaths.
Nurse Kathe Olmstead, right, gives volunteer Melissa Harting, of Harpursville, N.Y., an injection as the world's biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y.
Nam Y. Huh
A customer wears a mask as he walks to a barber shop in Libertyville, Ill., Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Thousands of Illinois businesses received millions in loans under a federal government program created to help small companies recover from the economic crisis left in the wake of the pandemic.
Jamillette Gomes holds her two-year-old son, Avian, as he receives a COVID-19 test, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, in Lawrence, Mass.
Parents place candles during a special service to wish for their children's success in the college entrance exams at the Jogyesa Buddhist temple in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including dozens of confirmed COVID-19 patients, took the highly competitive university entrance exam Thursday despite a viral resurgence that forced authorities to toughen social distancing rules.
UNITED NATIONS — The White House coronavirus response coordinator says Americans must not gather indoors with outsiders or take off their masks at any time when they are outdoors — even when they are eating and drinking.
Dr. Deborah Birx says people also have to observe social distancing and wash their hands to contain the coronavirus pandemic. She says some states are taking these measures, but in others it’s “not happening at the level that they need to happen.”
Birx says that even once vaccines are approved, it will take weeks to months before “the most vulnerable individuals in America” can be immunized.
She made the comments after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir at U.N. headquarters in New York on Thursday.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— U.S. reaches daily records with more than 3,100 deaths and 100,000 hospitalizations; tops 200,000 daily cases
— Russia vaccine available at 70 facilities in Moscow; hits record 28,145 daily cases
— Getting vaccine to right people could change course of pandemic in U.S.
— Britain is 5th nation to reach 60,000 coronavirus deaths
— Facebook says it will remove misinformation about coronavirus vaccines
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has recorded 629 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, the highest daily tally in about nine months.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Friday that 600 of the newly confirmed patients were domestically transmitted cases — nearly 80 % of them in the densely populous Seoul area, which has been at the center of a recent viral resurgence.
It says the 629 new cases took the country’s total to 36,332 for the pandemic, with 536 deaths related to COVID-19.
After successfully suppressing two previous outbreaks this year, South Korea has been grappling with a fresh spike in infections since it relaxed stringent social distancing rules in October. Last week, it toughened distancing restrictions in the greater Seoul area and other places.
DOVER, Del. — Delaware’s governor is issuing a stay-at-home advisory and implementing a universal mask mandate requiring people to wear cloth face coverings even in their own homes if someone outside the immediate household is present.
Gov. John Carney on Thursday also recommended that schools suspend in-person instruction from Dec. 14 to Jan. 8 and resume hybrid learning on Jan. 11. Winter sports competitions will be prohibited during that period.
The mask mandate will require all Delawareans to wear cloth face coverings anytime they are indoors with anyone outside their immediate household. Delaware has had a public mask mandate since April 28 requiring use of face coverings in public settings where social distancing is not possible.
A spokesman for the governor says officials are relying on voluntary compliance with the mask mandate.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois public health officials have reported 10,959 newly confirmed coronavirus infections and a second consecutive day of near record deaths from COVID-19.
The 192 fatalities announced Thursday matched the 24-hour toll reported May 13, at the height of the initial wave of the pandemic in Illinois. The number is second only to the 238 deaths reported Wednesday.
Illinois has now reported 12,830 deaths among 759,562 coronavirus infections.
MONTREAL — The Quebec government is cancelling its plan to allow gatherings over four days of the Christmas holidays.
Premier Francois Legault announced Thursday that the province will no longer permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people from Dec. 24 through Dec. 27 as had been planned.
Legault first announced the Christmas plan on Nov. 19, saying people could get together as long as they quarantined for a week before and a week after the holiday period. But coronavirus infections, COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise and the province’s health system is deemed fragile due to a lack of staffing.
Legault says it’s not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.
The French-speaking Canadian province reported 1,470 coronavirus cases Thursday.
PHILADELPHIA — Hospital beds are filling up and medical staffs are being stretched as Pennsylvania’s health care system copes with a growing number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.
State health officials say nearly half of all hospitals in the south-central region of the state and a third in the southwest anticipate staffing shortages within a week.
Pennsylvania’s top health official said Thursday that modeling indicates the state will run out of intensive care beds this month. More than 85% of the state’s ICU beds are occupied now.
But Dr. Rachel Levine added that she is even more concerned about hospital staffing. She notes that hospitals’ medical-surgical beds can be converted into ICU beds, but the supply of medical workers is “not infinite.”
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina on Thursday reported its highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 5,600 people testing positive for the coronavirus. The proportion of tests coming back positive has also risen sharply in recent days. On Sunday, the positivity rate surpassed 10% for the first time since April.
And for the first time ever, more than 2,100 people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. On Wednesday, the state reported a daily increase of 82 deaths, which is the most since the start of the pandemic.
At a time when all available metrics appear to show transmission at or near its worst levels yet, the state has shown strong reluctance to impose additional restrictions to help slow the spread.
An executive order Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed last week included stronger language aimed at boosting enforcement of the statewide mask mandate. Ahead of Thanksgiving, he reduced indoor gatherings from a maximum of 25 people to 10 people.
Cooper’s health secretary, Mandy Cohen, says an initial wave of nearly 85,000 Pfizer vaccine doses could arrive as early as Dec. 15.
SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert says Utah plans to prioritize front-line health care workers after it receives its first round of coronavirus vaccine doses.
They could arrive as early as mid-December. Hospital leaders say the first doses in Utah will go to front-line health care workers such as doctors and nurses in emergency departments.
They will also be given to urgent care facilities and COVID-19 units as well as their housekeeping employees. Five hospitals that experienced the highest COVID-19 response will be first to receive doses.
Each hospital is expecting to receive several thousand doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. Officials did not say how many doses each hospital will receive.
PORTLAND, Maine — An online portal designed to help Maine’s hospitality and tourism businesses obtain grants crashed on the day it was scheduled to start taking applications.
The Portland Press Herald reports business owners reported problems with the portal after it opened at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development shut down the application less than two hours after it opened. The department says the portal will be open for applications again starting Friday morning.
The tool allows businesses to apply for up to $20,000 in grants as part of a $40 million aid program announced by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills earlier in the week.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada reported 48 new deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, marking the deadliest day since the onset of the pandemic as the state’s COVID-19 surge shows few signs of slowing and death totals peak throughout the U.S.
Case and death totals continue to rise more than a week after new restrictions were implemented as part of Nevada’s statewide pause of activity.
During the three-week period, the number of guests businesses can accept has been reduced to 25% of capacity.
Hospitals continue to face strain and Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno is treating patients in an auxiliary unit in the parking garage.
PARIS — French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines will go to nursing homes residents when they will be available in the country, not before the end of the month.
Castex presented on Thursday the country’s vaccination program for the 67-million inhabitants country.
He said France already purchased “200 millions of doses, which represents 100 million people” since each vaccine requires two doses.
Vaccines will be made available for free, he said. He reaffirmed vaccination won’t be mandatory.
Health minister Olivier Veran said the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to arrive first, will go to nursing home residents and some staff working there who are more vulnerable due to their health condition.
The vaccination campaign will then be gradually extended to the elderly and more fragile people, then to the whole population.
France last week passed the milestone of 50,000 dead in the pandemic.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The first shipment of a coronavirus vaccine is expected in Oklahoma in about 10 days with health care workers and long term care providers and residents receiving the first doses, state health commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said Thursday.
Frye said 33,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer is expected by Dec. 13 or 14 and a shipment of a second, required, dose is expected about three weeks later.
The plan follows a draft distribution plan released by the health department in October and places first responders such as paramedics, police officers and firefighters in addition to the elderly and those at high risk in the second phase of people to receive the vaccine.
School students teachers and staff are in the third phase of those to receive the vaccine, then the general public. The priority list was developed by a committee using guidelines provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control, Frye said.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases in Oklahoma rose from 2,727 per day on Nov. 18 to 2,571 on Monday and the positivity increased from 15.8% to 16.34% during the same time, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. T
The state health department on Thursday reported an additional 1,707 virus cases and 24 more deaths for totals of 204,048 cases and 1,836 deaths since the pandemic began in March. There were 1,734 people hospitalized due to the virus.
LONDON — The United Kingdom has become the fifth country to officially record more than 60,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
That news comes just three weeks after reaching 50,000. The British government reported another 414 deaths, taking the confirmed total to 60,113.
The U.K, which has the highest virus-related death toll in Europe, joins the United States (274,000) Brazil (174,000), India (138,000) and Mexico (107,000) in reporting more than 60,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The U.K.’s actual death toll is widely considered much higher because it only counts those who tested positive for the virus and doesn’t include those who died of COVID-19-related symptoms after 28 days.
England lifted its lockdown Wednesday amid evidence that new cases are falling. However, restrictions remain in most parts of the country, along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
MILAN — Italy recorded a pandemic-high 993 deaths in the last 24 hours.
That tops the previous high of 969 during the deadly peak in March. The number of new daily coronavirus cases reached 23,225 on Thursday, falling after three tiers of regional restrictions put in a month ago.
Health officials say Italy’s rate of transmission has dropped below 1% nationally.
The government is set to announce new restrictions for the holidays, including keeping ski areas closed and banning travel between regions from Dec. 21 through Jan. 6.
Italy has registered 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases. The nation’s total death toll is 58,038, second in Europe after Britain.
WASHINGTON — Three former presidents say they’d publicly take a coronavirus vaccine, once one becomes available, to encourage all Americans to get inoculated.
Barack Obama said during an episode Thursday of SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” that he may be filmed getting vaccinated, “just so that people know that I trust this science.”
A spokesman for Bill Clinton suggested similar. George W. Bush’s chief of staff told CNN that Bush was ready to do similar. Those comments come as the coronavirus surges nationwide and even though potential vaccines may not be widely available for months.
The coronavirus has killed more than 273,000 Americans and infected nearly 14 million people nationwide.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president says he plans to give the military a role in distributing coronavirus vaccines, which he says U.S. President Donald Trump helped him get after a meeting in Washington in July.
López Obrador suggested Mexico will wait until U.S. regulators approve the Pfizer vaccine later this month before giving it the go-ahead in Mexico.
On Wednesday, Mexico’s Health Department signed a contract for 34.4 million doses and hopes to get 250,000 doses in December. Each person requires two doses.
The president says the government is discussing with “the army and the navy, and we are defining the whole operation” to distribute the vaccine. López Obrador has given the military an unprecedented array of responsibilities in his two years in office, including distributing medical supplies and guarding hospitals.
Mexico has registered 1.1 million confirmed cases and 107,500 confirmed deaths, the fourth-highest death toll in the world. However, there’s little testing and health officials estimate the actual death toll is likely closer to 150,000.