Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Nov. 30, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see a “surge upon a surge” of the coronavirus in the weeks after Thanksgiving, and he does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed before Christmas, The Associated Press reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week” that the level of infection in the U.S. would not “all of a sudden turn around.”
“So clearly in the next few weeks, we’re going to have the same sort of thing. And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line … we may see a surge upon a surge,” he said.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Since January, when the first infections were reported in the U.S., the nation’s total number of cases has surpassed 13 million. More than 265,000 people have died.
We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world.
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At tiny rural hospitals, weary doctors treat friends, family
The coronavirus pandemic largely hit urban areas first, but the autumn surge is devastating rural America, too. The U.S. is now averaging more than 170,000 new cases each day, and it’s taking a toll from the biggest hospitals down to the little ones, like Scotland County Hospital.
The tragedy is smaller here, more intimate. Everyone knows everyone.
Memphis, Missouri, population 1,800, is the biggest town for miles and miles amid the cornfields of the northeastern corner of Missouri. Agriculture accounts for most jobs in the region. The area is so remote that the nearest stoplight, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are all an hour away, hospital public relations director Alisa Kigar said.
People come to the hospital from six surrounding counties, typically for treatment of things like farm and sports injuries, chest pains and the flu. Usually, there’s plenty of room.
Not now. The small hospital with roughly six doctors and 75 nurses among 142 full-time staff, is in crisis.
UN: Pandemic to fan surge in humanitarian needs in 2021
GENEVA — The U.N. humanitarian office says needs for assistance have ballooned to unprecedented levels this year because of COVID-19, projecting that a staggering 235 million people will require help in 2021.
This comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and global challenges including conflicts, forced migration and the impact of global warming.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, expects a 40% increase in the number of people in need of such assistance in 2021 compared to this year — a sign that pain, suffering and torment brought by the coronavirus outbreak and other problems could get worse even if hopes of a vaccine are rising.
OCHA made the projections in its latest annual Global Humanitarian Overview on Tuesday, saying its hopes to reach 160 million of those people in need will cost $35 billion. That’s more than twice the record $17 billion that donors have provided for the international humanitarian response so far this year — and a target figure that is almost certain to go unmet.
“The picture we’re painting this year is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs we’ve ever set out, and that’s because the pandemic has reaped carnage across the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet,” said U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who heads OCHA.
“For the first time since the 1990s, extreme poverty is going to increase, life expectancy will fall, the annual death toll from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria is set to double,” he said. “We fear a near doubling in the number of people facing starvation.”
Moderna applies for emergency FDA approval for its coronavirus vaccine
The drugmaker Moderna announced highly encouraging results Monday, saying that complete data from a large study show its coronavirus vaccine to be 94.1% effective, a finding that confirms earlier estimates.
The company said it applied Monday to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the vaccine for emergency use, and that if approved, injections for Americans could begin as early as Dec. 21.
The hopeful news arrives at a particularly grim moment in the U.S. health crisis. Coronavirus cases have surged and overwhelmed hospitals in some regions, and health officials have warned that the numbers may grow even worse in the coming weeks because of travel and gatherings for Thanksgiving.
The new data from Moderna show that its study of 30,000 people has met the scientific criteria needed to determine whether the vaccine works. The findings from the full set of data match an analysis of interim data released Nov. 16 that found the vaccine to be 94.5% effective.
The study also showed that the vaccine was 100% effective at preventing severe disease from the coronavirus.
Vietnam reports first local infection in 89 days
HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnamese authorities are conducting intensive contact tracing after discovering the country’s first confirmed local transmission of the coronavirus in 89 days.
State media said Tuesday that a 32-year-old man in Ho Chi Minh City tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday after visiting a flight attendant who was undergoing self-quarantine at his home following his return from Japan two weeks ago. The flight attendant tested positive on Saturday, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said.
Health authorities ordered 137 people who had been in close contact with the man to stay in a central quarantine facility and shut down an English center where he works as a teacher, the newspaper said.
The new case ended Vietnam’s streak of 89 days without any known local transmission of the virus. Earlier, it went 99 days without local transmissions until a cluster of cases broke out at a hospital in Da Nang in central Vietnam in July.
Vietnam’s borders remain closed in an attempt to keep out the virus. Only limited international flights are operating to repatriate Vietnamese nationals and transport foreign diplomats and experts.
Olympic rings back in Tokyo Bay; a sign of hope in pandemic
TOKYO — The five Olympic rings are back in Tokyo Bay.
They were removed for maintenance four months ago shortly after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rings arrived on Tuesday after a short cruise from nearby Yokohama and are positioned on a barge in the shadow on Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge.
The reappearance of the rings is the latest sign that organizers and the International Olympic Committee are increasingly confident that 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes can safely enter Japan during the pandemic.
These Olympics are sure to be like no other.
They will hinge partly on the availability of vaccines and rapid testing for COVID-19, and on athletes and other participants following strict rules that could involve quarantines, a limited number of fans in venues, and athletes leaving Japan shortly after they finish their competitions.
Organizers have been vague about exactly how the Olympics will be held. Plans are in flux with dozens of COVID-19 countermeasures being floated involving athletes, fans, and tens of thousands of officials, judges, VIPs, and media and broadcasters.
Protocols should become clearer early in 2021 when decisions must be made about permitting fans from abroad, which will affect revenue from ticket sales.
Many turn to real Christmas trees as bright spot amid virus
The real Christmas tree industry, which has been battling increased interest in artificial trees, is glad to see that more Americans appear to be flocking to fresh-cut evergreens this season, seeking a bright spot amid the virus’s worsening toll.
It’s early in the season, but both wholesale tree farmers and small cut-your-own lots are reporting strong demand, with many opening well before Thanksgiving. Businesses say they are seeing more people and earlier than ever.
At some pick-your-own-tree farms, for example, customers sneaked in well before Thanksgiving to tag the perfect tree to cut down once the business opened. As demand surges, big box stores are seeking fresh trees up to a week earlier than last year, and Walmart is offering free home delivery for the first time.
“The season is running approximately six to seven days ahead of what we’ve seen in the past. We’ve never seen the demand like we’ve had this year,” said McKenzie Cook, who ships between 1.8 million and 2 million trees a year combined from McKenzie Farms in Oregon and Happy Holiday Christmas Trees in North Carolina.
A number of reasons are driving the uptick in interest. More Americans are staying home for the holidays amid pandemic restrictions and are realizing that for the first time in years — or maybe ever — they will be home to water a fresh-cut tree. With holiday parades and festivals canceled, stir-crazy families also are looking for a safe way to create special memories.
Plus, fresh-cut Christmas trees are largely displayed outside, where there’s a lower risk of viral spread, said Marsha Gray, executive director of the Christmas Tree Promotion Board.
Trump science adviser Scott Atlas leaving White House job
WASHINGTON — Dr. Scott Atlas, a science adviser to President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post.
A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment. Atlas confirmed the news in a Monday evening tweet.
Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 Americans.
Third Georgia congressman tests positive for COVID-19
ATLANTA — U.S. Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the third Georgia congressman to contract the virus.
Scott’s chief of staff Jason Lawrence confirmed the positive test result in a statement on Monday and said the Republican is “following guidance from the House Attending Physician as well as his personal physician.”
Scott represents Georgia’s 8th District, which stretches through the interior of south Georgia. The statement from Lawrence did not say if Scott was experiencing symptoms.
All three Georgia congressman who’ve tested positive for the virus have been Republicans.
Their teeth fell out. Was it another COVID-19 consequence?
Earlier in November, Farah Khemili popped a wintergreen breath mint in her mouth and noticed a strange sensation: a bottom tooth wiggling against her tongue. The next day, the tooth flew out of her mouth and into her hand. There was neither blood nor pain.
Khemili survived a bout with COVID-19 this spring, and has joined an online support group as she has endured a slew of symptoms experienced by many other “long haulers”: brain fog, muscle aches and nerve pain.
There’s no rigorous evidence yet that the infection can lead to tooth loss or related problems. But among members of her support group, she found others who also described teeth falling out, as well as sensitive gums and teeth turning gray or chipping.
Some dentists, citing a lack of data, are skeptical that COVID-19 alone could cause dental symptoms. But existing dental problems may worsen as a result of COVID-19, especially as patients recover from acute infections and contend with their long-term effects.
Americans face new COVID-19 restrictions after Thanksgiving
Americans returning from Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.
Los Angeles County imposed a stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents, and Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, banned high school, college and professional sports and decreed a quarantine for those who have traveled more than 150 miles outside the county.
In Hawaii, the mayor of Hawaii County said trans-Pacific travelers arriving without a negative COVID-19 test must quarantine for 14 days, and even those who have tested virus-free may be randomly selected for another test upon arrival. New Jersey is suspending all youth sports.
Health experts had pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving and not gather with anyone who didn’t live with them. Nevertheless, almost 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, the most since the pandemic gripped the country in March, and others took to the highways to be with family and friends.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infectious-disease expert, warned on ABC over the weekend that the country could see a “surge upon surge” of infections tied to Thanksgiving. And White House cornonavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told CBS that people who traveled should “assume that you were exposed and you became infected,” and get tested if they experience symptoms.
Children’s ER visits related to mental health increased in pandemic, CDC reports
As lockdown restrictions return due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published new research that shows the negative impact of the pandemic on the mental health of children and adolescents.
Researchers found that the proportion of emergency department visits related to mental-health were up 24% for children aged 5 to 11 and 31% for children aged 12 to 17 from April through October, compared with the same time period last year. The findings, published last week, add to existing research suggesting that COVID-19 has had a negative effect on children’s mental health.
Jeremy Esposito, a physician in the emergency department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), said the CDC findings reflect the distress kids experienced after schools closed and activities such as sports were put on hold.
“Patients and parents already dealt with barriers to accessing mental health before COVID-19, such as stigma, concerns for the cost of mental health care, lack of insurance, transportation barriers and shortage of providers. COVID-19 may have compounded those barriers as mental health services have had to adapt,” Esposito said.
State health officials confirm 165,019 total coronavirus cases in Washington
Washington state health officials confirmed Monday afternoon an additional 2,319 coronavirus infections and 71 deaths.
The latest update brings the state’s totals to 165,019 cases and 2,774 deaths, meaning that 1.7% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
Because DOH no longer reports COVID-related deaths on the weekends, tallies for deaths may be higher early in the week.
On Monday, DOH also reported that 10,895 people had been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.
In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 44,348 COVID-19 diagnoses and 881 deaths.
Obese Americans could be prioritized for coronavirus vaccine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisers will meet Tuesday to discuss who should get coronavirus vaccines first.
One population they may consider prioritizing: Americans who are obese — a major risk factor for severe COVID-19 that some experts say has gone underrecognized.
The agency has already laid out four groups that should be considered for priority: health-care personnel, workers in essential and critical industries, older adults, and people with certain underlying medical conditions — including “severe obesity.”
It’s unclear to what extent the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will prioritize this group.
Available bed ‘a gift’ at hospitals
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — As the coronavirus pandemic swelled around the 160-bed Mayo Clinic hospital, the day was dawning auspiciously. Two precious beds for new patients had opened overnight. At the morning “bed meeting,” prospects for a third looked promising.
Better yet, by midmorning there were no patients in the Emergency Department. None. Even in normal times, a medium hospital like this can go many months without ever reaching zero.
Everyone knew better than to trust this good fortune. They were right.
From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., seven patients arrived at the emergency room. Fourteen came the next hour, then 10 more the hour after that. About a third had signs of COVID-19. By 12:05 p.m., Mayo had put itself on “bypass,” sending all ambulances to the two other hospitals in town, and by late afternoon, the emergency room was stashing patients in the ambulance garage.
With more than 91,000 COVID-19 patients in their beds, U.S. hospitals are in danger of buckling beneath the weight of the pandemic and the ongoing needs of other sick people. In small and medium facilities hit hardest by the outbreak, that means finding spots in ones and twos.
“A bed is a gift right now,” said Jason Craig, regional chair for the Mayo Clinic Health System in northwestern Wisconsin. “I’ll take all of them.”
Sen. Grassley returns to Senate after coronavirus isolation
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator and third in the line of presidential succession, is back in the Senate on Monday after testing positive for coronavirus two weeks ago.
Grassley, 87, isolated after finding out he had been exposed to the virus and tested positive shortly after that. He said in a statement that he never had any symptoms and had been cleared to return to the office by his doctors.
“This disease affects people differently,” Grassley said. “I did not experience symptoms, but more than a thousand Americans are dying every day and many more are hospitalized. That means we all have to do our part to help protect our friends, family and fellow Americans.”
Rita Ora says sorry for lockdown-breaching birthday party
British singer Rita Ora, whose hits include “Anywhere” and “I Will Never Let You Down,” apologized Monday for breaking lockdown rules by holding a birthday party, saying it was “a serious and inexcusable error of judgment.”
The Sun newspaper ran photos of Ora and others, including models Cara and Poppy Delevingne, arriving at the Casa Cruz restaurant in London’s Notting Hill area on Saturday.
Reports of the party attracted widespread criticism.
Turkey announces curfews to curb soaring virus
Turkey’s president on Monday announced the country’s most widespread lockdown so far amid a surge in COVID-19 infections, extending curfews to weeknights and putting a full lockdown in place over the weekends.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said new curfews would be implemented starting Tuesday on weekdays between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am. He also announced total weekend lockdowns from 9:00 pm on Friday to 5:00 am on Monday.
After strong pressure from the medical community and the public, Turkey last week resumed reporting all positive tests for the virus, after releasing only the number of symptomatic cases for four months. That caused daily cases to shoot up to around 30,000 and put Turkey among the hardest-hit nations in Europe during the pandemic.
Daily fatalities in Turkey have hit record numbers for eight consecutive days, bringing the country’s acknowledged virus death toll to 13,746.
Skiing may not spread coronavirus but slopes still risky, says UN
As several European countries have suspended access to the ski slopes to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said the risk of catching COVID-19 while skiing is likely minimal.
“I suspect many people won’t be infected barreling down the slopes on their skis,” said Dr. Michael Ryan said at a WHO news briefing on Monday.
Ryan said the danger of coronavirus spread from skiing is from many of the other activities linked to the sport.
“The real issues are going to come at airports, tour buses taking people to and from ski resorts, ski lifts … and places where people come together,” Ryan said. “We would advise that all countries look at the their ski season and other reasons for mass gathering,” he said.
Earlier this year, ski resorts in France, Italy and Austria were the sites of several superspreading events that helped seed COVID-19 outbreaks across the continent. Currently, restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 have ski lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany, Austria and elsewhere.
WA Notify system goes live with COVID exposure notifications
Washington Exposure Notifications — which aim to let people know of possible COVID-19 exposures — are here.
Washington Exposure Notifications, also known as WA Notify, was developed by the University of Washington and the state Department of Health (DOH) to alert people who might have been exposed to COVID-19.
The technology does not share personal information, is completely private and doesn’t know or track identities, according to the health department’s website.
Holiday air travel surges despite dire health warnings
Nearly 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, the greatest number since the pandemic gripped the country in March, despite pleas from health experts for Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving.
The Transportation Security Administration screened at least 1 million people on four of the last 10 days through Sunday. That’s still half the crowd recorded last year at airports, when more than 2 million people were counted per day.
With new reported cases of coronavirus spiking across the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued a warning against Thanksgiving travel just a week before the holiday.
Federal judges uphold Kentucky governor’s virus school order
A federal appeals panel has upheld Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s order to stop in-person classes at religious schools during the coronavirus pandemic.
A three-member panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Sunday issued a stay of a federal judge’s order from last week.
U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove ruled Wednesday that the Democratic governor’s order cannot apply to religious schools as the “First Amendment protects the right of religious institutions ‘to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.’”
But the appellate court said Sunday that it is likely to rule that Beshear’s order was “neutral and of general applicability” in that all schools were affected.
Juneau nonprofits awarded $860K virus homeless relief grant
A group of four nonprofit organizations in Alaska’s capital have been awarded a grant of more than $860,000 to counter homelessness amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Juneau Empire reported Friday that the grant from the Alaska Housing Financial Corporation will be shared by the Juneau groups following their joint application to the corporation.
The award is part of a federal coronavirus recovery fund emergency solutions grant to help prevent those affected by the pandemic from experiencing homelessness.
Free remote learning support is out there, but some Seattle students still can’t get access
Are you looking for resources to help your school-age children through the academic year? From free tutoring to meals and enrichment programs, they’re out there — if you know where to look.
Across Seattle, agencies that typically serve youth and families have reallocated funds, staff and other resources to offer more support. Community organizations and grassroots groups have also stepped up their efforts to help fulfill needs that might normally have been met in-person while kids were attending school.
“We know remote learning can make things more difficult for families,” said Damien Hicks, Seattle Parks and Recreation manager of Community Learning Centers.
But despite all these efforts, Hicks said there are still barriers to students participating.
“We get lots of sign-ups but not as many showups,” Hicks said.
WSU Cougars game vs. USC moved to Sunday because of COVID concerns
Washington State’s upcoming game at USC has been pushed back two days in order to give Trojan players more time to come out of isolation or quarantine after entering COVID-19 protocol within the last two weeks.
The Cougars (1-1) and Trojans (3-0) will play Sunday at 6 p.m. at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on FS1, the Pac-12 Conference announced. Originally, the teams were supposed to kickoff at 6 p.m. Friday on FS1.
According to a news release from WSU, “The game was moved to allow for the return of USC players who are in isolation due to COVID-19 positive tests or in quarantine as a result of contact tracing.”
Both WSU and USC have encountered COVID-19 issues within the last month, but the Trojans’ outbreak was more recent and the schedule change indicates Clay Helton’s team either wouldn’t have been able to meet the Pac-12’s 53-man threshold, or the position requirements that mandate teams must have at least one scholarship quarterback, seven offensive linemen and seven defensive linemen available.
An Oregon nurse bragged on TikTok about not wearing a mask outside of work. She’s now on administrative leave.
Dressed in blue scrubs and carrying a stethoscope around her neck, an oncology nurse in Salem looked to the Grinch as inspiration while suggesting that she ignored coronavirus guidelines outside of work.
In a TikTok video posted Friday, she lip-dubbed a scene from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to get her point across to her unaware colleagues: she does not wear a mask in public when she’s not working at Salem Hospital.
“When my co-workers find out I still travel, don’t wear a mask when I’m out and let my kids have play dates,” the nurse wrote in a caption accompanying the video, which has since been deleted.
Following swift online backlash from critics, her employer, Salem Health, announced Saturday that the nurse had been placed on administrative leave. In a statement, the hospital said the nurse, who has not been publicly identified by her employer, “displayed cavalier disregard for the seriousness of this pandemic and her indifference towards physical distancing and masking out of work.”
It’s time to start preparing Fluffy and Fido for post-pandemic life
Will my pets be OK when our house is suddenly empty during the day?
Is getting my pet a companion pet a good idea?
How can I get over my guilt and sadness about leaving them?
It might seem too soon to think about preparing pets for the time humans will return to offices and schools. After all, a coronavirus vaccine isn’t expected to be widely available until spring at the earliest, which means that most Americans who were sent home to work or study remotely will remain there for at least several more months.
But according to animal expert Zazie Todd, author of “Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy,” the eventual separation will be easier for pets “if you make changes gradually, starting potentially a long time beforehand.” So, in the spirit of doing what’s best for four-legged family members, we asked several experts how to prepare our pets and, let’s face it, ourselves to spend weekdays without one another’s company.
Pa. lawmaker gets a positive test at Trump meeting, leaves quickly
A Pennsylvania state senator abruptly left a West Wing meeting with President Donald Trump after being informed he had tested positive for the coronavirus, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.
Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano had gone to the White House last Wednesday with like-minded Republican state lawmakers shortly after a four-hour-plus public meeting that Mastriano helped host in Gettysburg — maskless — to discuss efforts to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
Positive coronavirus cases are surging across the United States and the nation’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon surge” in the coming weeks. The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday.
8 dead in pandemic unrest at Sri Lanka prison
Inmates unhappy about the coronavirus threat at an overcrowded prison near Sri Lanka’s capital have clashed with guards who opened fire, leaving eight prisoners dead and 59 others injured, officials said Monday. Two guards were critically injured, they said.
Pandemic-related unrest has been growing in the country’s prisons. Inmates have staged protests in recent weeks at several prisons as the number of coronavirus cases surges in the facilities.
More than a thousand inmates in five prisons in Sri Lanka have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least two have died. About 50 prison guards have also tested positive.
Sri Lanka has experienced an upsurge in coronavirus cases since last month when two clusters — one centered at a garment factory and other at a fish market — emerged in Colombo and its suburbs.
Confirmed cases from the two clusters have reached 19,449. Sri Lanka has reported a total number of 22,988 coronavirus cases, including 109 fatalities.
Music festivals offer to help Belgium’s vaccination campaign
With nothing on their agendas for months to come, music festival organizers in Belgium want to use their know-how to help the country’s coronavirus vaccination campaign.
As the vaccines are expected to arrive in multi-dose vials for shots to be administered all on the same day, Belgium health authorities are planning to vaccinate people in groups as much as possible. The task will pose many logistical challenges, including the creation of vaccination centers that festival organizers say they can help set up.
Enjoying a strong reputation in the music world, Belgian festival experts have proven experience in both building huge pop-up structures and in crowd management.
With the music industry hit hard by the pandemic’s economic, several festivals have a large network of technicians who are currently unemployed and are ready to help out.
“Our sector has been at a standstill for many months, and our many staff are eager to bring their creativity and dedication to the fight against coronavirus,” said federation president Damien Dufrasne.
The Belgian government has set a goal of vaccinating about 70% of the country’s population, about 8 million people, when approved COVID-19 vaccination shots become available.
Hong Kong closes government offices in new anti-virus curbs
Hong Kong on Monday imposed sweeping curbs to stop a fresh spike in coronavirus infections, closing government offices and swimming pools and limiting public gatherings to two people.
The announcement follows Sunday’s decision to close schools for in-person teaching the rest of the year. The territory’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, announced 76 new confirmed cases on Monday, including nine that were untraceable, on top of 115 infections reported Sunday.
That marks the third time government employees have been told to stay home this year in an attempt to control repeated surges of the virus.
Critics in Greece warn virus test price caps may slash testing
Greece’s largest medical association on Monday criticized a decision by the country’s center-right government to impose price caps on coronavirus tests at private labs, warning that the measure could disrupt testing during a spike in infections.
The government last week set the price limits at $48 for regular swab tests and $12 for rapid tests, cutting current rates at most labs by more than half.
In response, the Panhellenic Medical Association said that the measure would force many independent labs to stop providing COVID-19 tests because they would be too costly for them, putting additional pressure on the state-run health service.
Greece suffered its highest daily death toll due to the pandemic at the weekend, with 121 deaths reported Saturday, while the cumulative death toll stands at 2,321 with more than two-thirds of all fatalities occurring in November.
Moderna asking U.S., European regulators to OK its virus shots
Moderna said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.
Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.
Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
• When will the vaccine be here? The planes are in the air as the federal government promises a rapid rollout starting in December, but it will be a while before most Americans have both doses — a necessity that "more than doubles the logistical challenges," King County's health officer points out.
For a possible preview, look to Britain: Although its first inoculations are likely just days away, the prime minister is warning of months of restrictions.
• Guards with no masks, sick inmates who mingled with others: As coronavirus ravaged a Washington prison, sickening hundreds of people and leading to two deaths, corrections officials' botched response likely made things worse. That's according to a state watchdog report released today.
• If 95% of Washingtonians wore masks regularly, more than 1,400 COVID-19 deaths could be averted by March, scientists say. So who isn't using them, and where? A new UW study aims to find out, starting in King County. Here's how it will work.
• A Seattle-area nurse has been named to Biden’s transition COVID-19 advisory board.
• In Atlanta, parents are fuming because Spider-Man gets to go to school before their kids do. In New York City, school buildings are reopening as coronavirus cases climb, in a major reversal for the nation's biggest school system.
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