By JON HAWORTH, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA, MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide.
Over 55.2 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has also varied from country to country.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica. The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 11.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 247,263 deaths.
Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.
Here’s how the news is developed Tuesday. All times Eastern:
Nov 17, 11:54 pm
Oregon orders statewide freeze
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order that authorized a statewide freeze to combat rising COVID-19 cases.
The order will close businesses such as gyms, museums, zoos and indoor recreational facilities, restrict dining to takeout only and limit social gatherings to six people.
Religious gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, according to the executive order.
The state has 58,570 total coronavirus cases and 778 deaths, according to the Oregon Health Department. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped from 180 on Nov. 2 to 378 on Nov. 17, according to the health data.
“We are at a breaking point,” Brown said in a statement. “If we don’t take further action, we risk continued alarming spikes in infections and hospitalizations, and we risk the lives of our neighbors and loved ones.”
The executive order goes into effect on Wednesday and will last for at least two weeks.
In the meantime, Brown said $55 million in federal financial assistance will be committed to businesses that are impacted by COVID-19.
Each Oregon county will get a baseline of $500,000 plus a per capita allocation of the remainder of the funds.
“I know that this is not enough. I remain committed to fighting for additional resources at the federal level, including a reauthorization of the important features of the CARES Act, like the Payroll Protection Program and an extension of unemployment insurance benefits,” Brown said in a statement.
Nov 17, 10:31 pm
FDA authorizes first at-home rapid test
The Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for the first at-home rapid test for the SARS-CoV2 virus. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is authorized for use at home or point of care in a doctor’s office, but only with a prescription.
“While COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been authorized for at-home collection, this is the first that can be fully self-administered and provide results at home. This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in a statement.
FDA says the molecular test “works by swirling the self-collected sample swab in a vial that is then placed in the test unit. In 30 minutes or less, the results can be read directly from the test unit’s light-up display that shows whether a person is positive or negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Some experts have pushed for more development of at-home rapid tests, saying that if they were affordable and accessible — like a pregnancy test — people could test themselves daily before going to work, school or traveling. Since this test is prescription-only, it likely won’t be that widely available yet, but other companies have submitted applications for similar technology and the FDA says that will be a priority.
“A test that can be fully administered entirely outside of a lab or healthcare setting has always been a major priority for the FDA to address the pandemic. Now, more Americans who may have COVID-19 will be able to take immediate action, based on their results, to protect themselves and those around them,” said Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement. “We look forward to proactively working with test developers to support the availability of more at-home test options.”
Nov 17, 9:29 pm
LA issues new business restrictions as cases rise
Los Angeles County will issue new limits on business and gatherings as the number of COVID-19 cases have doubled since the beginning of the month and hospitalizations are averaging 1,000 a day, according to health officials.
And if the trend continues, officials warn they will have to issue another stay-at-home order and curfew.
Starting Friday, nonessential businesses, including stores and offices, will be reduced to a maximum 25% occupancy.
Restaurants, breweries, wineries, bars and all other nonessential retail establishments will have to close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m, according to the health department.
Currently, LA County is reporting a five-day average of 2,884 cases and 1,126 hospitalized patients, according to officials.
If the five-day average rises to 4,000 cases or hospitalizations are more than 1,750 per day, the city will prohibit in-person dining, according to health officials.
If the five-day average rises to 4,500 or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day, the county will issue a stay-at-home order and general curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m, health officials said.
Nov 17, 8:55 pm
1 in 4 US hospitals nearing capacity ICU beds: HHS
Twenty-five percent of the nation’s hospitals have more than 80% of their intensive care unit beds filled, according to an internal memo by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that was obtained by ABC News.
The jump in hospitalizations came after the country saw new increases in coronavirus metrics over the last week, according to the agency.
Between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, nearly 1.1 million new cases were confirmed in the country, a 35.2% increase from the previous seven-day period, according to the memo.
The positivity rate in the country surpassed 10% over the last week, HHS said.
The U.S. saw 8,501 new COVID-19 deaths from Nov. 10 to Nov. 16, which marked a 11.8% increase from the previous week, the memo said.
Nov 17, 8:40 pm
US deaths hit highest mark since May
The COVID Tracking Project said coronavirus-related deaths are on the rise in all four sections of the country and were higher today than on any day since May 14.
There were 155,201 cases and 1,565 deaths reported Tuesday, according to the data. Roughly 77,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with the virus and 20 states are at their record hospitalization rate, according to The COVID Tracking project.
Nov 17, 6:45 pm
Chuck Grassley tests positive
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced Tuesday night he tested positive for the coronavirus. The 87-year-old said he went into isolation earlier in the day after he learning he was exposed to someone who had the virus.
“While I still feel fine, the test came back positive for the coronavirus. I am continuing to follow my doctors’ orders and CDC guidelines,” Grassley said in a statement.
Grassley, the second-oldest senator, said he will work from home, but his offices in Iowa and Washington, D.C., will remain open for constituents.
Six U.S. senators have contracted COVID-19.
What does the future hold Nov 17, 3:35 pm
New York reaches highest hospitalization numbers since June
New York state has 2,124 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, the most since June 9, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
“Our micro-cluster strategy and testing capacity will help us through this new season, but ensuring we don’t go back to where we were in the spring is going to depend on our behavior,” Cuomo warned.
The state’s positivity rate stands at 3.18%, with 5,088 people testing positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
Nov 17, 3:03 pm
Ohio announces 3-week overnight curfew
In hard-hit Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine announced a three-week curfew that will begin Thursday and run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night.
“The situation in Ohio is deteriorating,” DeWine warned.
Every county has at least twice the high-incidence level set by the CDC, he said.
Ohio has over 312,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 5,772 fatalities.
“I’m also asking each Ohioan every day to do at least one thing that reduces your contact with others,” DeWine tweeted. “If we can cut down contacts by 20-25 percent, this will make a difference. Paired with mask-wearing, this will go a long way from stopping our hospitals from being overrun.”
Nov 17, 2:38 pm
US surpasses 2 million monthly cases for 1st time
Barely halfway through November, the U.S. has surpassed 2 million monthly cases for the first time, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The U.S. is now averaging more than 150,000 new cases every day, nearly three times the average from just a month ago, the COVID Tracking Project found. Every state in the country is reporting an increasing number of new COVID-19 cases.
The previous record number of cases in a single month was 1,897,631 in July.
ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos, Brian Hartman, Ben Bell and Soorin Kim contributed to this report.
Nov 17, 1:32 pm
All but 3 states in ‘red zone,’ per White House Coronavirus Task Force report
All states except Vermont, Maine and Hawaii are in the “red zone” as the pandemic intensifies across the U.S., according to the most recent weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing for governors, dated Nov. 15.
Wisconsin is experiencing “an unrelenting rise in cases and test positivity over the last two months,” the report said.
“Illinois has seen an explosive rise in cases and test positivity over the last six weeks,” the report said. Illinois’ hospitalizations are at an all-time high and deaths are increasing rapidly.
In Oklahoma, hospitalizations are increasing week over week, the report said. An increase in cases in the last “two weeks correlate with Halloween and related activities,” and “with Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays, Oklahomans must understand the COVID-19 situation statewide.”
Meanwhile, in the West and the South, “Colorado has seen a relentless increase in cases and hospitalization over the past two months,” while “Florida is in the midst of a viral resurgence,” the report said.
A state qualifies for “red zone” for cases if it has 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population.
ABC News’ Josh Margolin contributed to this report.
Nov 17, 12:33 pm
New Orleans cancels Mardi Gras parades
New Orleans is canceling parades for next year’s Mardi Gras “because large gatherings have proven to be super-spreader events,” said the office of Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Mardi Gras, on Feb. 16, won’t be canceled will not be canceled because it is a religious holiday.
“Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street entertainment Districts are open, but subject to Local and State COVID Guidelines at all times,” the mayor’s office added.
ABC News’ Josh Hoyos contributed to this report.
Nov 17, 12:31 pm
Fauci: If vast majority get vaccinated life could be close to normal by fall 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci told The New York Times’ DealBook’s Andrew Ross Sorkin that life could return to some degree of normality by fall 2021 if at least 75% of U.S. citizens get vaccinated.
“This is going to be a difficult task. We’ve got to do outreach. We’ve got to be transparent,” he said.
Fauci also said the U.S. still needs to make available rapid at-home tests kits that can be used daily.
ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.
Nov 17, 12:09 pm
College students leaving Boston for Thanksgiving must stay home, mayor says
As COVID-19 cases increase in Massachusetts, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted Tuesday: “Normally, many college students travel to their hometown for Thanksgiving and then return to campus for the rest of the term. We have asked colleges and students not to do that this year. If you go home for Thanksgiving, you should not be returning to Boston this semester.”
Massachusetts reported 11 more deaths Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to 10,110.
“Every metric tells us that we’re in the midst of a significant and concerning increase of COVID activity,” Walsh said. “The daily cases we’re seeing are starting to look like the numbers we saw near our peak in April and May.”
Contact tracing has shown the virus is spreading at workplaces and at gatherings in homes, Walsh added.
“We’re asking you to spend Thanksgiving in person with only your current household,” Walsh tweeted.
ABC News’ Rachel Katz contributed to this report.
Nov 17, 11:58 am
100,000 volunteer for Royal Caribbean test cruises
Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Michael Bayley announced that 100,000 people have volunteered to test out COVID-19 protocols before the cruise line restarts its operations.
“We can’t wait to start this next phase with you all!” Bayley wrote in a post on his official Facebook page. “It has been so gratifying to receive literally thousands of emails and calls offering to volunteer.”
Cruise lines operating in American waters are required by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to run simulated voyages with volunteer guests before recommencing sailing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Volunteers must acknowledge in writing that they risk contracting COVID-19.
Last week, Royal Caribbean told ABC News it was encouraged by the huge interest in its trial cruises but that dates had not yet been set.
ABC News’ Gio Benito, Mina Kaji and Nathan Luna contributed to this report.
Nov 17, 10:37 am
Nebraska hospital ‘bursting at the seams’ with COVID-19 patients
Dr. Brian Boer, a critical care doctor working in the COVID-19 wing of Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, said his “nightmare scenario” is one in which non-coronavirus patients have to be turned away because the hospital is “bursting at the seams with so much COVID.”
“If you ask some of my colleagues and partners, like, we’re there,” Boer told “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.
“You know, in terms of the trajectory we’re on, if it continues like this unabated, like, we’re going to end up in the scenario where we’re going to have to make really difficult decisions and tell people we can’t offer them the things we normally would have,” he added. “We’re knocking on that door right now.”
The number of people being hospitalized for COVID-19 in Nebraska each day has quadrupled over the past month, which Boer said is reflective of what he’s seeing in his hospital, where almost half of all intensive care patients are battling the disease.
The issue isn’t the lack of ICU beds or ventilators, he said, but rather the lack of adequate staffing.
“We’ll create beds or we have ventilators and the space or the equipment — we don’t have the bodies,” Boer said. “We don’t have the nurses, the respiratory therapist, the residents and advanced practice providers and physicians to care for that person.”
Boer said he isn’t seeing a lot of spread among health care providers, thanks to personal protective equipment.
“We’re more worried about getting sick in the community than we are getting sick at work — and that’s a fact,” he said.
Nov 17, 9:21 am
Over 300 attended wedding leading to outbreak in Washington state, officials say
Health authorities are urging attendees of a large wedding held in Washington state to quarantine through Saturday and get tested for COVID-19 after several guests have tested positive.
At least 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington’s Grant County have been linked to the wedding near Ritzville on Nov. 7, which was attended by more than 300 people from various communities. The Grant County Health District said more cases tied to the event are “being added daily” and that attendees diagnosed with COVID-19 have also been linked to two subsequent outbreaks.
Wedding ceremonies at the time were limited to a total of no more than 30 people and, starting Monday, indoor receptions or similar gatherings are banned, according to the Grant County Health District.
Nov 17, 8:34 am
Federal vaccine expert turned whistleblower says ‘lives are at stake’ if Trump doesn’t coordinate with Biden
Dr. Rick Bright, the federal vaccine expert who blew the whistle on a politicized coronavirus response, said that “lives are at stake” if the outgoing Trump administration does not coordinate with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team over vaccine distribution.
“Lives are at stake here,” Bright, an immunologist who was recently named a member of Biden’s transition COVID-19 advisory board, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.
“If we miss this opportunity to coordinate now, we could experience hiccups or delays that really we don’t need to see,” he added. “Americans deserve a smooth transition so we can make sure to save their lives from this pandemic.”
The Biden transition team planned to meet with vaccine manufacturers this week, and Bright, whose life’s work has been developing vaccines, said he hoped they would provide more detailed data from their trials.
“We really do need to see the data, the full data set,” he said. “That data set needs to be made available to the FDA and to other scientists. President-elect Biden has said all along he’s going to let science lead the way, and so it’s critical that we are able to see that in a transparent way and the best recommendations from those scientists are made for the FDA, and then that information is carried forward to the American public.”
Bright said it’s important to see if the full data set shows the vaccine to be safe and effective in people of all populations, because the early, interim data could just prove efficacy for a certain population.
When asked whether the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine production program should get any credit for the speed with which vaccines have been developed, Bright instead credited investments in vaccine technology made under the Obama administration.
Bright is the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the federal agency charged with overseeing the rapid production of a vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus. He filed a whistleblower complaint in May, alleging he was ousted because he resisted pressure to allow widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that President Donald Trump was touting as treatment for COVID-19.
Nov 17, 7:35 am
South Australia quarantines 4,000 people amid growing cluster linked to medi-hotel
Around 4,000 people in South Australia have been ordered to quarantine as the Australian state grapples with a fresh COVID-19 outbreak.
South Australia authorities announced five new locally-transmitted cases on Tuesday, at least four of which were officially linked to a medi-hotel in the Parafield suburb of Adelaide, where travelers arriving from abroad are required to quarantine for 14 days. Authorities said the fifth case is expected to be connected to the Parafield cluster soon, which would bring the total number to 21.
“All of these people have either no symptoms or they are very mildly symptomatic, and they have been picked up early in the course of the disease,” South Australia’s chief health officer, Prof. Nicola Spurrier, said at a press conference Tuesday.
Those who have been advised to isolate are all close contacts of the cluster from the quarantine hotel and are being contacted daily by health authorities to check for symptoms. Meanwhile, at least five schools have been closed as contact tracers work to contain the outbreak, according to Spurrier.
“We’ve decided to take a very, very cautious approach,” she told reporters, later adding that “this is a very, very worrying situation.”
Thousands of people have been tested for COVID-19 in South Australia in recent days. Spurrier urged people to only get tested if they are symptomatic or if they have recently visited the areas of concern.
“We do need to prioritize our testing across South Australia,” she said.
There are currently 34 active infections in the state, including imported cases. The latest cluster is the first instance of community transmission in South Australia since April.
“I need to reiterate to the people of South Australia that we are not out of the woods yet,” the state’s premier, Steven Marshall, said at Tuesday’s press conference. “We are just at the beginning stages of dealing with this particular very nasty cluster in Parafield. We are going to get through this. But we’re going to get through it with the cooperation of every single South Australian citizen.”
Nov 17, 6:37 am
Austria begins stricter lockdown amid rising cases
Austrians awoke Tuesday morning with a new tough lockdown meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Under the stricter measures, which will remain in place through Dec. 6, people in Austria are only allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries, to go to work if their jobs are deemed essential, to exercise outside, to go to the doctor or to help people who need assistance.
Schools across the Alpine nation have shuttered, as teaching will be done remotely during lockdown. Banks, basic food stores and pharmacies remain open but bars, hair salons, restaurants and other non-essential shops and services have been ordered closed.
“All of social and public life will be brought down to a minimum,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Monday, ahead of the new restrictions.
It’s the second time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that Austria has imposed a nationwide lockdown, amid rising infections across Europe. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection has confirmed more than 208,000 cases of COVID-19 so far, including at least 1,741 deaths. Nearly 50,000 of those cases were reported in the past week alone.
Nov 17, 5:09 am
Russia registers 442 new deaths in all-time high
Russia registered 442 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the country’s highest single-day death toll from the disease since the pandemic began.
An additional 22,410 new cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed nationwide over the past day. Russia’s cumulative total now stands at 1,971,013 cases with 33,931 deaths, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.
Moscow remains the epicenter of the country’s outbreak and recent surge. More than a quarter of the newly confirmed cases — 5,882 — and nearly 17% of the new deaths — 74 — were reported in the capital, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.
Despite the growing number of infections and deaths, Russian authorities have repeatedly said they have no plans to impose another nationwide lockdown.
The Eastern European country of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Nov 17, 4:17 am
US reports over 166K new cases
There were 166,045 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It’s the fourth day in a row that the country has reported over 150,000 newly diagnosed infections. Monday’s count is slightly less than the all-time high of 177,224 on Nov. 13.
An additional 995 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Monday, down from a peak of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.
A total of 11,205,486 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 247,220 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4.
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