The U.S., which recorded 177,552 new infections on Saturday, is now averaging almost 110,000 more daily cases than a month ago. Vaccinations against Covid-19 in the U.S. will “hopefully” start in less than three weeks, according to the head of the federal government’s program to accelerate a vaccine.
“We have patients gasping for breath, needing a ventilator to survive and too often dying,” some 2,000 employees of the University of Wisconsin health system wrote in an open letter pleading for residents to help stop the virus’s spread.
British ministers will weigh the next round of pandemic restrictions on Sunday, while the French government plans a three-phase easing of lockdown measures from December. Italy is also considering a pre-holiday easing.
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Oregon Breaks Record for Third Day (5 p.m. NY)
Oregon reported 1,517 cases, breaking a record for the third consecutive day. “Oregon is on a steep and stark slope of rising coronavirus cases,” Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said in a statement. “But we aren’t powerless in the face of this virus. Because it depends on us to slow the spread.”
The state went into a two-week “freeze” on Wednesday ordered by Governor Kate Brown, limiting retail and social gatherings, allowing takeout only and closing gyms, museums and other indoor facilities.
Kentucky Governor Reports Weekly Record, Issues Holiday Warning (4:52 p.m. NY)
Governor Andy Beshear said Kentucky had the most weekly infections yet and that 117 of the state’s 120 counties are in the virus “red zone.” Like other governors, he warned that the next week’s holiday season could make the already critical situation worse.
“If we have a major surge of COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving, our hospitals will simply not have the capacity to give everyone the care they need,” Beshear, a Democrat, said in statement Sunday. “Nothing is worth that risk.”
CVS Chief Says 48 Hours From Vaccine Receipt to Care Homes (4:24 p.m. NY)
Elderly Americans will be among the first to receive Covid-19 vaccines, and CVS Health will lean on processes developed by years of conducting seasonal flu clinics to speed a rollout to care homes across the U.S., the pharmacy chain’s CEO said Sunday.
“Our pharmacists, our nursing professionals have gone to skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities for several years now,” Larry Merlo said on CBS. “So we have the systems. We have the processes.”
Merlo said more than 25,000 long-term care facilities have selected CVS to be their Covid vaccine provider, and that the company is adding pharmacy staff ahead of the effort.
“Operation Warp Speed has said 24 hours after approval, those vaccines will be on the road. And 48 hours after we receive that vaccines, we’ll be in those facilities providing that vaccine into the arms of our elderly,” he said.
Georgia’s Loeffler Tests Negative for Covid, Will Keep Isolating (3:24 p.m. NY)
Both Republicans involved in run-off elections in Georgia to decide control of the U.S. Senate are self-isolating at home after one, Senator Kelly Loeffler, may have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Loeffler’s latest Covid-19 test, done Saturday night, came back negative, her campaign said on Sunday. She’ll continue to isolate and will be tested again.
“Out of an abundance of caution, she will continue to self-isolate and be retested again to hopefully receive consecutive negative test results,” Loeffler campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson said in a statement.
Swedish PM Sends Covid Plea to Nation After ‘Careless’ Response (2:28 p.m. NY)
Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven used a rare Sunday night address to warn of the growing threat the coronavirus poses, amid fears the strategy used so far may not be enough to fight an increasingly deadly pandemic.
Lofven, the third prime minister in Sweden’s history to deliver such a national address, declared that “too many people have been careless about following the recommendations” that health authorities say are key if the virus is to be reined in.
Sweden famously avoided a lockdown, relying instead on voluntary measures. But with a death rate considerably higher than elsewhere in the Nordic region, and intensive care beds rapidly filling up, authorities in the country are now recalibrating their approach.
Wisconsin Medical System Pleads for Help to Stem Virus’s Spread (2:25 p.m. NY)
The University of Wisconsin health system, which now has a waiting list for patients, released a letter signed by 2,000 employees sounding an alarm for residents to prevent the virus’s spread.
“Wisconsin is in a bad place right now with no sign of things getting better without action,” said the letter, released Sunday. “We are, quite simply, out of time. Without immediate change, our hospitals will be too full to treat all of those with the virus and those with other illnesses or injuries.”
Wisconsin is one of the hardest-hit states in the virus’s recent surge. The seven-day average of new cases has roughly tripled since the beginning of October to about 7,000. Hospitalizations have also tripled in that time.
Turkey Hits Record (1:23 p.m. NY)
Turkey reported a daily record of 6,017 symptomatic Covid-19 patients, about 30% higher than three days ago, amid partial weekend curfews across the country.
The nation may have to impose stricter measures if the recent steps won’t slow down the pandemic, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
France Cases Slow (12:58 p.m. NY)
France’s confirmed cases rose by 13,157 on Sunday to 2.14 million. The seven-day average of new cases continued to drop, as the country’s second lockdown is starting to slow the virus’s spread. The share of positive tests slipped to 14%, falling almost 3 percentage points in a week and down from 20.6% in early November.
Another 214 people died, the smallest increase in four weeks. The number of patients in the hospital and in intensive care has been falling from a peak on Monday.
Gottlieb Says Hospitals Likely to Face Staffing Shortages (12:48 p.m. NY)
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned that staffing will be a bigger issue at hospitals than the number of available beds during the unfolding spike.
“The hospitals can create new beds, they just won’t have the people to staff them,” he said. That’s because unlike previous waves, there will be limited ability to surge staff from less-affected areas of the country to hot spots.
Gottlieb, who is a Pfizer board member, predicted that the vaccines could be widely available to the general public by the second quarter of next year if all goes well. He also said that perhaps 30% of the public will have been infected with Covid-19 by the end of the winter, building up some immunity.
Cuomo Warns New Yorkers of Holiday Risks (12:16 p.m. NY)
New York reported 5,391 cases, the sixth day with more than 5,000 new infections, as Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a warning about the heightened risks of infection over the coming holidays. “This is a very dangerous period,” he told reporters in New York City, urging citizens to heed public health rules. “It’s purely a function of what we do.”
Hospitalizations ticked up to 2,562, while the statewide positive-test rate dropped slightly to 2.7%, one of the lowest in the nation. The positive rate in the “micro-cluster” areas targeted for more stringent restrictions remained steady at 4.4%.
U.K. Cases Pass 1.5 Million (11:54 a.m. NY)
The U.K. became the third western European country to pass 1.5 million cases after infections surged 50% this month. It reported 18,662 cases on Sunday, below the seven-day average of 21,290. Another 398 people died within 28 days of testing positive.
Italy Weighs Easing Lockdown Before Holidays (11:18 a.m. NY)
Italy reported 28,337 new coronavirus cases Sunday, down from 34,767 a day earlier – in line with the normal weekend pattern as fewer tests are carried out. Daily deaths fell to 562 from 692 on Saturday.
The government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is considering temporarily easing a soft lockdown in the run-up to Christmas to allow shops to open for longer hours in worst-hit regions, Italian newspapers reported earlier Sunday.
U.S. Plans First Vaccinations Next Month, Warp Speed Leader Says (10:40 a.m. NY)
Vaccinations against Covid-19 in the U.S. will “hopefully” start in less than three weeks, according to the head of the federal government’s program to accelerate a vaccine.
“On the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the state departments of health will have told us where to deliver the vaccines,” Moncef Slaoui, head of the government’s Operation Warp Speed, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
U.S. Daily Cases Soar From Month Ago (8:52 p.m. NY)
The U.S., which recorded 177,552 new infections on Saturday, is adding almost 110,000 more cases every day compared with the same period a month ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Fatalities have doubled over that period, as the virus spread across the nation.
The seven-day average of new cases is now 169,657, compared with 59,954 in the same period a month ago. The record for daily infections is 195,690, set on Nov. 20.
Shanghai Reports New Cases in Pudong Outbreak (8:05 a.m. NY)
Two new cases were confirmed on Sunday afternoon in Shanghai. Both were close contacts of people infected the Pudong district, according to the…