CDC quarantine time; Pfizer 6.4M vaccine doses; US deaths

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Jessica Flores
 
| USA TODAY

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Federal government officials said the first 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be distributed to U.S. communities as early as December within 24 hours of approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

That doesn’t mean Americans should let down their guard over Thanksgiving, experts warn.

Several state restrictions go into effect Wednesday just hours before the Thanksgiving holiday, including a ban on alcohol sales at restaurants and bars in Pennsylvania. State health officials ordered restaurants and bars to not sell alcohol starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday until 8 a.m. Thursday in an effort to prevent social gatherings.

“It turns out the biggest day for drinking is the day before Thanksgiving,” Gov. Tom Wolf said at a news conference this week. “When people get together in that situation, it leads to the exchange of fluids that leads to the increase in infection.”

Overseas, British authorities relaxed restrictions on social gatherings to allow people to celebrate the Christmas holiday with friends and family. Officials in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland created a holiday plan to allow up to three households create a “Christmas bubble” between Dec. 23 and 27.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12.5 million cases and over 259,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 59.8 million cases and 1.4 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.

CDC pondering quarantine reduction to 7-10 days: report

In an effort to encourage compliance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may reduce the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to the coronavirus from 14 days to somewhere between seven and 10, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper said agency officials are putting the final touches on the recommendation, which would require a negative COVID test for the exposed person to exit quarantine.

Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for COVID-19 response, told the Journal that studies have shown effective quarantines can be done in less time than the currently recommended two weeks. Although there’s a chance some infections could be missed, he said there’s a valuable tradeoff to be gained.

“Hopefully people would be better able to adhere to quarantine if it was, for example, seven to 10 days,” he said.   

New Mexico lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill that will deliver a one-time $1,200 check to all types of unemployed workers and up to $50,000 for certain businesses.

The bill also provides smaller stimulus checks to immigrants without legal status in the country and dependents, as well as additional funds for food banks, virus testing and contact tracing efforts.

Most of the proposed spending will be made possible by federal relief funding previously assigned to New Mexico, including around $319 million in unspent funds that were expected to expire soon. An additional $10 million in state general funds were allocated for testing and tracing efforts.

The bill allocates $100 million to support businesses with 100 or fewer employees. The New Mexico Finance Authority is tasked with distributing the grants, which can be up to $50,000, and has wide discretion about whom to choose. It’s instructed to focus on the service industry.

Texas judge implements new shelter-at-home curfew in El Paso

Judge Ricardo Samaniego implemented a new curfew to combat the surge of COVID-19 cases in El Paso, Texas. The 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew goes into effect Wednesday and will last until Monday.

However, unlike his previous curfew, people would not be barred from going to businesses outside those hours, Samaniego told the El Paso Times Monday.

The curfew sends a message that “we are serious about this and have to do something” to curb the rise in cases, he said. Even if the COVID-19 numbers go down, it’s still a serious problem in El Paso County based on existing cases, he said.

“It is a shelter-at-home order. Residents are encouraged to stay at home,” Samaniego said. “We want no more than 10 people to gather together in public or at home.”

– Aaron A. Bedoya, El Paso Times

OAN suspended from YouTube for COVID misinformation

One America News Network, a right-wing cable network touted by President Donald Trump, has been suspended from YouTube after repeatedly posting misinformation about COVID-19.

“After careful review, we removed a video from OANN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming there’s a guaranteed cure,” Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson, said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY.

Citing repeated violations of YouTube’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, Choi said OANN’s account has also been suspended from the program that allows it to monetize its channel.

The network, also known as OAN, has developed a reputation for airing baseless conspiracy theories and spreading false information, including about COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election.

– Joel Shannon

Tennessee won’t mandate COVID vaccine in K-12 schools

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccines will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools once they become available.

The Republican governor said vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the spread of the virus. However, it is a choice he believes people should make on their own.

“Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine.”

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines could be available to residents as soon as Dec. 15. Frontline healthcare workers and first responders will receive the first wave of vaccines.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press



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