Latest Updates & U.S. Response

  1. Health Care

    Fauci says U.S. could see ‘a surge upon a surge’ in coronavirus cases

    "We don't want to frighten people, but that's the reality,” he said.

    Those who are traveling during the holiday weekend should quarantine and get tested for coronavirus if possible to “prevent further spread and further surge,” according to the government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci.

    “The travel that has been done has been done,” Fauci said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “Right now as people go back, we want to urge them, if they've been in situations outside of the family setting in which they really don't know the level of exposure, to be really careful when you either return from the place that you went or other people come back into your house.”

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  2. Health Care

    Surgeon General makes plea: Wearing a mask ‘will protect my mother’

    "Thanks to all who kept a hospital bed open for my loved ones by following #COVID19 precautions and getting your #flu shot," he said.

    U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams made clear on Sunday that mask-wearing is personal to him.

    In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Adams cited his hospitalized mother as a reason Americans should start wearing masks to curb coronavirus case counts that have skyrocketed in recent weeks and placed a severe strain on the nation’s hospitals.

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  3. Employment

    Millions of workers poised to lose access to paid leave as virus spikes

    As many as 87 million public and private sector workers could lose access to the federally mandated benefit at the end of the year.

    Tens of millions of workers stand to lose access to federally mandated paid sick and family leave at the end of December, compounding the hardship over the surging pandemic for American families.

    Families First, a relief package enacted in March, required many employers to provide workers with two weeks of coronavirus-related sick leave at full pay and up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave to care for family members at two-thirds pay. Researchers estimate this covered half the U.S. workforce.

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  4. congress

    McConnell suspends in-person GOP lunches

    The decision comes as the Senate’s seen a recent uptick in members contracting the coronavirus.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will temporarily suspend in-person lunches for the GOP caucus, amid a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases.

    McConnell’s decision comes as the Senate’s seen a recent uptick in members contracting the disease. Both Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks, while Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) announced she’d received a positive test before proceeding to test negative.

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  5. Transition 2020

    Biden’s other health crisis: A resurgent drug epidemic

    Joe Biden will emphasize treatment and prevention, not law enforcement, in addressing a drug epidemic that’s only grown more dire during the pandemic.

    President-elect Joe Biden, long viewed as a drug policy hawk during his four decades in the Senate, is signaling a different approach to confronting a still-raging drug addiction epidemic made worse by the pandemic.

    Biden, who has stocked his team with addiction experts with extensive backgrounds in public health, will emphasize new funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention, while calling to eliminate jail time for drug use. It’s a departure from his tough-on-crime approach as a senator — and from President Donald Trump’s frequent focus on a law enforcement response to the drug crisis, which experts said undercut necessary public health measures.

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  6. Coronavirus

    Governments around the world weigh thorny question: Who gets the vaccine first?

    Different countries are coming up with different answers to that question.


    Congratulations world leaders, you’re on the cusp of the once unthinkable — a game-changing coronavirus vaccine developed with record speed. But you have yet to face the truly hard part, at least politically: deciding who gets it.

    In theory, everyone in the world who wants it should eventually be able to get immunized. But for much of 2021, demand for the coronavirus vaccine will outstrip supply, presenting a massive dilemma for governments, which must decide who gets the vaccine first or early, and who must wait.

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  7. Coronavirus

    Health Canada could approve first Covid-19 vaccine in December

    The officials were speaking at the first of a new weekly series of press conferences to provide updates on the federal government’s vaccine deployment strategy.

    OTTAWA — Canada could approve its first Covid-19 vaccine in December, with immunizations beginning to roll out across the country in January, according to Health Canada’s chief medical adviser.

    Dr. Supriya Sharma says Canada is on track to authorize a vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech around the same time as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is set to meet Dec. 10 to discuss whether to approve the vaccine. Arianne Reza, an assistant deputy minister with Public Services and Procurement Canada, said vaccines should be ready for distribution soon afterward. “We don’t anticipate any lag time,” she said.

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    Food industry braces for new coronavirus wave

    Across the food and grocery industry, the holidays are starting to resemble the panic of the pandemic spring, when the supply chain was stressed and businesses were teetering.

    Turkey farmers raised smaller birds for reduced Thanksgiving gatherings. Restaurants are begging Congress for a lifeline as state and local officials clamp down on indoor dining. And major grocers including Kroger, H-E-B and Publix are bringing back per-customer limits on high-demand items like toilet paper and household cleaners.

    Across the food and grocery industry, the holidays are starting to resemble the panic of the pandemic spring, when the supply chain was stressed and businesses were teetering. This time around, grocers say the limits are proactive measures, rather than a sign of looming shortages. Still, photos of empty store shelves have again started cropping up online — a sign that the country’s food industry is still on edge as worried customers snap up more toilet paper and milk than they may need.

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  9. Transition 2020

    Biden’s plan for an army of disease trackers faces long odds

    Steep costs and a gridlocked Congress could thwart enlisting a national corporation of contact tracers.

    A raging pandemic and a gridlocked Congress could upend President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to hire 100,000 public health workers to trace Covid-19’s spread, despite widespread agreement it’s needed to finally end the crisis.

    Contact tracing will be essential even after Covid-19 vaccines become widely available, because not everyone will get shots and scattered outbreaks will continue to ripple across the country. Quickly identifying who’s been exposed to people with infections can guide efforts to stamp out new hot spots and break chains of transmission.

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  10. Legal

    Major shift at Supreme Court on Covid-19 orders

    The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to bar New York state from reimposing limits on religious gatherings.


    The Supreme Court signaled a major shift in its approach to coronavirus-related restrictions late Wednesday, voting 5-4 to bar New York state from reimposing limits on religious gatherings.

    The emergency rulings, issued just before midnight, were the first significant indication of a rightward shift in the court since President Donald Trump’s newest appointee — Justice Amy Coney Barrett — last month filled the seat occupied by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

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  11. Legal

    House Dems subpoena ICE detention facility over allegations of medical abuse

    The facility has been accused of sterilizing women without their consent.

    House Democrats subpoenaed a private prison firm Wednesday after it refused to hand over documents related to allegations of medical abuse and Covid safety hazards among undocumented immigrants.

    Reps. Bennie G. Thompson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, and Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Oversight Committee, issued the subpoena after having launched investigations into LaSalle Corrections, which runs the Irwin County Detention Center, back in September. Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the Georgia facility, alleged at the time that women held at the detention center underwent sterilizations without their consent. Wooten also alleged the facility routinely violated guidelines for mitigating the spread of coronavirus.

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  12. The Fifty

    Cuomo: Governors, in call with Biden, asked for $500B for states, vaccine distribution plan

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the conversation “went very well.”

    A Nov. 19 Zoom call with President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the nation’s governors centered around federal stimulus for states and equal distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

    Cuomo, chair of the National Governors Association, said during a Nov. 20 call with reporters that the bipartisan group officially asked for $500 billion in state and local funding to offset revenue losses and aggressive spending during the pandemic. The governors, he said, also voiced concerns that a federal vaccine distribution plan could disproportionately affect poor and minority communities if it primarily utilizes chains such as CVS and Walgreens.

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  13. Q&A

    Are Your Choices Making the Pandemic Worse?

    How does an epidemiologist think through the little decisions each of us make during the coronavirus pandemic? Boston University’s Ellie Murray explains.

    The global coronavirus pandemic can be seen many ways: as an act of God, a consequence of a shrinking world, a biological fluke. But if you’re an epidemiologist, looking at the grim moment America finds itself in right now, you also see it another way: This was a choice.

    For months, each of us has made a cascade of seemingly small decisions about how to live during the pandemic—whether or not to wear a mask, whether or not to quarantine, if and how to socialize, whether to travel for holidays or stay home. And then there are the choices that we have made as a country. Politicians have chosen to require masks, or push safety messages, or close bars—or they’ve chosen to ignore the virus and do none of those things.

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  14. Coronavirus

    Operation Warp Speed leader says he may step down soon

    Moncef Slaoui said the decision about his departure is unrelated to the presidential transition.

    Operation Warp Speed head Moncef Slaoui may step down from the government's coronavirus vaccine and treatment accelerator "by the end this year or early next year," he told POLITICO in an interview on Wednesday.

    Slaoui since May has been atop an operation that has invested more than $10 billion into six vaccine candidates and multiple therapeutics, which has been widely viewed as one of the few success stories from the Trump administration's response to Covid-19.

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  15. Transition 2020

    Trump officials hold first ‘Operation Warp Speed’ briefing for Biden

    The focus of the initial meeting was on Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and distribution, said one person familiar with the agenda.

    Trump administration health officials on Wednesday kicked off a series of planned meetings with the Biden transition team on "Operation Warp Speed," the administration's effort to rush Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, according to two people familiar with the hastily scheduled session.

    The focus of the initial meeting was on Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and distribution, said one person familiar with the agenda, with a goal of bringing President-elect Joe Biden's agency review team up to speed on Operation Warp Speed's workings. A second person familiar with the meeting said it was scheduled about 24 hours after the General Services Administration's announcement on Monday that the transition could proceed and that Wednesday's meeting was intended to be the first of multiple briefings in coming weeks.

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  16. employment

    Jobless claims rise to 778,000 as pandemic worsens

    Most economists warn that without more government aid, the hardships will deepen for jobless individuals.

    The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 778,000, evidence that the U.S. economy and job market remain under strain as coronavirus cases surge and colder weather heighten the risks.

    The Labor Department's report Wednesday said jobless claims climbed from 748,000 the week before. Before the virus struck hard in mid-March, weekly claims typically amounted to roughly 225,000. They shot up to 6.9 million during one week in March before dropping yet remain historically high more than eight months later, with many businesses unable to fully reopen.

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  17. Canada

    'Minister of everything' is tasked with Canada's comeback

    The Liberal government’s finance minister is ready to account for Covid-surge spending and has a plan for what comes next.


    OTTAWA — Chrystia Freeland is known as Justin Trudeau’s “minister of everything,” deployed in service of national unity, continental trade and relations with the combative Trump administration. Now she’s Canada’s finance minister and her latest mission is epic.

    The prime minister’s fate is tied to her success — as is the economic future of Canadian households and businesses rocked by the coronavirus.

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  18. The Fifty

    How 9 governors are handling the next coronavirus wave

    State leaders are balancing rising case numbers with pressure to keep society open.

    President Donald Trump hasn’t been leading on the coronavirus and governors are again in charge of the nation’s response. They’re reacting with a patchwork policy that’s unlikely to head off the long-warned “dark winter” in America.

    Governors are balancing rising case numbers and pressure to keep schools, restaurants and bars at least partially open. They’re employing loosely defined “curfews” on all but essential workers, admonishments over holding Thanksgiving dinners and reductions in capacity limits on indoor spaces — and a growing number of Republicans are mandating masks.

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