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Coronavirus live updates: 'We are at a dire point,' US surgeon general says

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Myriam Borzee/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide.

Over 57.4 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.

The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 11.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 254,383 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 developing Monday. All times Eastern:

Nov 23, 12:08 pm
England lockdown to end next week as planned

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that a monthlong, nationwide lockdown in England will be lifted next week as scheduled.

Nonessential businesses and shops, including gyms and hair salons, will be allowed to reopen when the country returns to a regional tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions after Dec. 2.

“For the first time since this wretched virus took hold, we can see a route out of the pandemic,” Johnson told members of Parliament, adding that breakthroughs in testing, treatments and vaccines should reduce the need for restrictions next year.

Unlike previous restrictions, the tiered measures will be a uniform set of rules and much tougher. The prime minister is expected to announced which parts of the county is in which tier on Thursday.

“I can’t say that Christmas will be normal this year,” Johnson said. “We all want some kind of Christmas; we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it. But what we don’t want is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown.”

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

Nov 23, 10:31 am
TSA screens over 3M flyers in 3 days ahead of Thanksgiving

More than 3 million people went through airport security checkpoints across the United States between Friday and Sunday, despite public health guidance against traveling for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 1,019,836 individuals on Friday and 984,369 on Saturday. But Sunday saw the most travelers, with TSA screening 1,047,934 people — the highest since the coronavirus pandemic was declared in mid-March.

The previous pandemic record was set on Oct. 18, the Sunday after the long Columbus Day weekend, when TSA screened 1,031,505 individuals.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is recommending that Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving.

“It’s not a requirement, it’s a recommendation for the American public to consider,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, told reporters during a call on Nov. 19. “Right now, as we’re seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time.”

ABC News’ Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.

Nov 23, 9:35 am
‘We are at a dire point,’ US surgeon general says

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the nation is “at a dire point” in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, “by any measure.”

“Cases, positivity, hospitalizations, deaths — we are seeing more Americans negatively impacted than ever before. But I also want Americans to understand that we’ve never had more reason for hope, thanks to science,” Adams told ABC News’ Cecilia Vega in an interview Monday on Good Morning America.

“We’re going to have people — the vulnerable — start to be vaccinated in mere weeks,” he added. “So I”m asking Americans, I’m begging you, hold on just a little bit longer, keep Thanksgiving and the celebrations small and smart this year.”

Adams advised people to hold Thanksgiving and holiday celebrations outdoors if possible, to keep the gatherings small — ideally less than 10 attendees — and to prepare ahead of time.

“Make sure you’re not going around out in public and exposing yourself to other people, especially now heading into these celebrations,” he said.

When asked about the White House’s controversial plans to hold holiday parties indoors, Adams said the public health guidelines “apply to everyone.”

“We want everyone to understand that these holiday celebrations can be super-spreader events, so we want them to be smart and we want them to be as small as possible,” he said. “These apply to the White House, they apply to the American people, they apply to everyone.”

Nov 23, 8:26 am
Nevada to enter ‘statewide pause’

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered a three-week “statewide pause” that begins Tuesday to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“I am not issuing a shutdown order,” Sisolak said during a virtual press conference Sunday evening. “My goal is to aggressively try to attack this spread, while maintaining some portion of our economy and our daily lives.”

Under the pause, residents will be required to wear face masks in private and public gatherings. Public gatherings will be limited to 50 people or to 25% capacity, whichever number is lower. Private gatherings will be limited to 10 people from no more than two households.

Sisolak said no additional businesses will be closed, but bars and restaurants will only be able to operate at 25% capacity with no more than four people per table. Gyms and fitness studios may operate with no more than 25% capacity while adhering to strict social distancing guidelines. Retail establishments including malls can continue operating at 50%.

“I know the majority of our bars and restaurants are doing their best, but these settings have proved to be high risk because they allow the opportunity for people to remove their face coverings in indoor settings around people outside of their households,” Sisolak said. “That’s how the virus spreads.”

Nov 23, 7:09 am
Russia reports over 25,000 new cases for first time

Russia confirmed 25,173 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional 361 fatalities from the disease in the last 24 hours, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.

It’s the first time that Russia has reported over 25,000 newly diagnosed infections in a single day, setting a new record for the country. The cumulative total now stands at 2,114,502 confirmed cases, including 36,540 deaths, according to the 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. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that it’s up to regional authorities to decide what measures need to be imposed in their regions to curb the spread of the virus.

The Eastern European nation 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 23, 5:39 am
US reports over 142,000 new cases

There were 142,732 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Sunday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the 20th straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Sunday’s count falls under the all-time high of 196,004 new cases on Nov. 20.

An additional 921 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Sunday, down from a peak of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

A total of 12,247,487 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 256,783 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 the 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.

Nov 23, 4:41 am
AstraZeneca, Oxford say their vaccine is up to 90% effective

U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and England’s University of Oxford announced Monday that late-stage trials show their COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing the disease.

The results are based on interim analysis of phase 3 trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil, which looked at two different dosing regimens. One regimen showed vaccine efficacy of 90% when the drug, called AZD1222, was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart. A second regimen showed 62% efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart. The combined analysis from both dosing regimens showed an average efficacy of 70%, according to press releases from AstraZeneca and Oxford.

There were a total of 131 COVID-19 cases in the analysis, and no hospitalizations or severe cases of the disease were reported in participants receiving the vaccine candidate, according to the press releases.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial, said in a statement Monday. “Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply.”

AstraZeneca, which has promised not to profit from the vaccine “for the duration of the pandemic,” said it will now immediately prepare to submit the data to regulators around the world — including in the United Kingdom, Europe and Brazil — that have framework in place for conditional or early approval. The company will also seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income nations.

Meanwhile, Oxford said it is submitting the full analysis of the interim results for independent scientific peer review and publication.

“Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement Monday. “This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency. Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.”

The U.K. government has already placed orders for 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine candidate, along with 40 million doses of another developed by Pfizer and BioNTech which has shown to have 95% efficacy.

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