Latest news on Covid vaccine distribution and CDC guidelines

Fauci to speak to Biden transition team for the first time Thursday

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, will be speaking to members of Biden’s presidential transition team Thursday for the first time. 

“I’m going to be meeting with them today, by Zoom,” Fauci said in an interview on CBS News’ “The Takeout” podcast.

“So today will be the first day where there will be substantive discussions about the transition between me and the Biden team,” Fauci said. “I’m very pleased that today we’re having the first discussion about a number of things, vaccinations and things like that.”

Facebook bans false claims about Covid-19 vaccines

Facebook on Thursday said it would remove false claims about Covid-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, following a similar announcement by Alphabet’s YouTube in October.

The move expands Facebook’s current rules against falsehoods and conspiracy theories about the pandemic. The social media company says it takes down coronavirus misinformation that poses a risk of “imminent” harm, while labeling and reducing distribution of other false claims that fail to reach that threshold.

Facebook said in a blog post that the global policy change came in response to news that Covid-19 vaccines will soon be rolling out around the world.

Read the full story here.

California sheriff tests positive after refusing to enforce Covid measures

A California deputy tested positive for the coronavirus after refusing to enforce the governor’s Covid-19 orders, authorities said.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said Sheriff Scott Jones reported mild symptoms last week after being exposed to another employee who later tested positive, KRON-TV reported. His symptoms included a fever, congestion and a headache, according to the station.

On Nov. 24, Jones said he refused to enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order amid a rise in Covid-19 cases in the state, the station reported.

“I have a tremendous amount of faith in folks to make those assessments relative to Covid,” Jones said at the time.

Officials said Wednesday the sheriff was expected to recover and is under quarantine with his family, the station reported. It was unclear whether his family members tested positive. 

Weekly jobless claims fall to 712,000, beating expectations

The number of claimants for initial weekly jobless benefits fell last week to 712,000, as the labor market struggles to rebuild itself amid a continued surge in Covid-19 infections.

The data, released Thursday by the Department of Labor, beat economists’ expectations of 780,000 claims. In the prior week, total claims had ticked up sharply to a newly revised 787,000.

While claims remain well below the pandemic peak of 7 million in March, the weekly totals continue to represent three times the pre-pandemic average.

The United States set three grim records on Wednesday, recording the highest number of daily deaths, new infections and hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

The worsening public health outlook comes as millions of unemployed Americans are set to lose their benefits at the end of the year as emergency federal assistance expires.

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Treasury secretary, described the current economic situation as “an American tragedy.”

Bill Gates says ‘almost all the vaccines are going to succeed’

Bill Gates, who has warned for years of a global disease outbreak, said he expects almost all Covid-19 vaccines to succeed, but warned Americans not to get a false sense of security and urged them to continue following public health protocols until the vaccine is widely distributed.

Gates told Savannah Guthrie in an interview on the “TODAY” show Thursday that he anticipates a surge in the spring unless Americans “double down on our behavior.”

“The most impactful thing is associating with people less, wearing a mask,” Gates said. “This is a war — we’re all in it together.”

He added that while vaccine distribution would be difficult because “the federal government has abdicated some of its responsibilities in a public health crisis,” Gates said he remained optimistic.

“I would immediately step up and take the vaccine,” he said. 

Hackers targeting supply chain that keeps coronavirus vaccines cold, experts warn

Hackers backed by foreign governments are targeting companies involved in shipping and storing the coronavirus vaccine at a low enough temperature to keep it from spoiling, IBM said in research released Thursday.

The announcement is the latest in a series of cybersecurity research reports that point to foreign governments employing hackers to break into the networks of groups working to rush out a vaccine, and comes as the U.S. prepares to ship refrigerated boxes of vaccines across the country this month.

While not every potential vaccine requires the same refrigeration, the one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, which was approved Wednesday in the U.K. and may soon become the first coronavirus vaccine approved for distribution in the U.S., has to be shipped in special boxes of dry ice that can only rarely and briefly be opened. The White House has claimed as many as 20 million doses of the vaccine could be distributed in the U.S. in December.

Read the full story here.

California reports a record 28,000 Covid cases, the most in a day in any state yet

On Wednesday, California counted 28,251 Covid-19 cases, the most any state has counted in a day. This comes amid the 200,000 cases and 2,700 reported deaths recorded countrywide.

The U.S. has averaged 165,671 cases and 1,603 dead per day the last week, up from an average of 128,058 cases and 1,106 reported deaths per day four weeks ago.

These states and territories joined California in setting new single-day records:

  • Illinois, 266 dead
  • Kansas, 119 dead
  • Mississippi, 2,457 cases
  • Nebraska, 110 dead
  • New Jersey, 4,705 cases
  • New Mexico, 40 dead
  • Oklahoma, 54 dead
  • Puerto Rico, 22 dead
  • Vermont, 222 cases

U.S. logs 14 million cases after setting three grim records

The United States surpassed 14 million Covid-19 cases on Wednesday only hours after the country set three records, including the highest number of daily deaths, new infections, and hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

The U.S. logged 2,777 coronavirus-related deaths and nearly 205,000 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to a NBC News tally. Meanwhile, hospitalizations reached a new high of 100,000 people, The Covid Tracking Project reported.

“Cases are rising, hospitalizations are increasing, deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, said during a briefing.

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World leaders slated to speak at special U.N. session

UNITED NATIONS — Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are slated to speak at the U.N. General Assembly’s special session starting Thursday on the response to Covid-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic which has claimed 1.5 million lives, shattered economies in countries rich and poor.

Assembly President Volkan Bozkir says when he took the reins of the assembly in September it would have been better to hold the high-level meeting in June. Nonetheless, he said Wednesday that the session “provides a historic moment for us to come together to beat Covid-19.”

Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton volunteer to get coronavirus vaccine on camera

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton volunteered to help build public trust in a coronavirus vaccine by taking a shot on camera.

Aide Freddy Ford said Bush would “do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated.” Angel Ureña, a spokesperson for Clinton, echoed Bush’s statement, saying the 42nd president would also take the shot in a “public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same.”

Obama told SiriusXM Radio that he would also follow suit.

“I will be taking it, and I may end up taking it on TV or having a film just so people know that I trust this science,” Obama said. “What I don’t trust is getting Covid.”

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