By MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA, EMILY SHAPIRO and MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 69.8 million people and killed over 1.5 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:
Dec 13, 8:46 am
FedEx truck carrying 1st shipment of Pfizer vaccine leaves Michigan facility
FedEx has begun its shipment process of the Pfizer vaccine in the U.S. on Sunday morning, the company posted on Twitter.
Dec 13, 7:59 am
Germany further tightens COVID-19 restrictions
Starting Wednesday, Dec. 16 through Jan. 10, all non-essential stores and schools will be closed in Germany and social meetings will be limited to five people from two households, with an exception made for the Christmas period from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 when four more people beyond a household will be allowed.
No exceptions will be made for New Year’s Eve.
COVID-19 transmissions remain high in the country despite softer restrictions in place. As of Dec. 13, the Robert Koch Institute reported a total of 20,2000 new cases and 321 deaths, bringing the totals to 1,320,716 and 21,787, respectively.
Germany had initially planned for a “semi-lockdown,” allowing for a holiday exemption from Dec. 23 to Jan 1 where up to 10 people from two households could meet but those plans were scrapped in favor of these new rules.
ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.
Dec 13, 1:53 am
US surpasses 16 million coronavirus cases
At least 16,062,299 Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
There are currently over 108,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 nationwide and current hospitalizations have increased by nearly 10% since the beginning of the month.
The U.S. is now averaging nearly 2,400 new coronavirus related deaths a day — 2,379 to be exact — which surpasses the country’s previous peak in April.
This week alone, 16,653 COVID-19 related deaths were recorded which is nearly 100 American deaths reported every hour.
Additionally, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, Friday marked the U.S. highest single-day new case total, with 231,775 new cases.
ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this report.
Dec 12, 8:01 pm
6 states report over 10,000 new cases
As COVID-19 continues to surge across the U.S., six states reported over 10,000 new cases on Saturday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
They were California, Florida, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Another seven states reported over 5,000 new cases: Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Tennessee.
In total, according to the tracker, there were 223,365 new U.S. cases reported on Saturday, 2,477 deaths and a record 108,487 people currently hospitalized.
Dec 12, 4:05 pm
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices votes to recommend Pfizer vaccine
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an independent group of medical experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a virtual meeting on Saturday voted 11-0 recommending the Pfizer vaccine for Americans 16 years and older.
Three committee members recused themselves because they had a conflict of interest.
This recommendation now heads to CDC Director Robert Redfield, who must sign off before doses can be administered.
ABC News’ Lauren Lantry contributed to this report.
Dec 12, 3:59 pm
Country music legend Charley Pride dies from virus
Country music legend Charley Pride died of COVID-19 complications on Saturday.
Last month, the 86-year-old performed at the CMA Awards, where he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Pride was the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Between 1967 and 1987, Pride delivered 52 Top 10 country hits, won Grammy awards, and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist,” said the statement announcing his death. “His musicality opened minds and superseded prejudice.“
Dec 12, 3:30 pm
California breaks records for daily cases, daily deaths, total hospitalizations
California broke new records on Saturday for daily cases (over 35,700), daily deaths (225) and total hospitalizations (13,410).
Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued stay-at-home orders to regions if their intensive care unit capacity falls below 15%. The San Joaquin Valley, Southern California and the Greater Sacramento region all have fallen below that threshold, while the Bay Area and Northern California have not.
ICU capacity in the San Joaquin Valley fell to 0% on Saturday and was at 5.3% in Southern California.
ABC News’ Matt Fuhrman contributed to this report.
Dec 12, 12:22 pm
1st vaccines to arrive at 145 sites on Monday
Pfizer said it expects to have the vaccines rolling out of its Kalamazoo, Michigan, facility on Sunday morning.
The first shipments are expected to arrive at 145 sites on Monday, 425 sites on Tuesday and another 66 sites on Wednesday, Gen. Gus Perna of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program said.
At those sites, the vaccines will be paired with ancillary kits to assist with the vaccinations. The kits contain needles, syringes, alcohol swabs, diluent, safety gear and vaccine reminder cards.
Perna said later this week he will release the locations getting the first doses of the vaccine.
ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.
Dec 12, 10:30 am
FDA ‘very comfortable’ with vaccine safety profile for 16, 17 year olds
Common questions surrounding the newly authorized Pfizer vaccine include safety for teenagers and the risk of allergic reactions.
Though the final data doesn’t have conclusive data on 16 and 17 year olds because they weren’t enrolled in trials until more recently, the FDA is “very comfortable with the safety profile that was observed in 17 and 16 year olds,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told reporters.
Regarding allergies, Marks said 1.6% of the population has had a severe allergic reaction.
Marks said you should notify your doctor if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to a vaccine and noted that sites that administer the vaccine will have medications on hand to respond to an allergic reaction.
ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.
Dec 12, 10:01 am
FDA Commissioner denies he was threatened with firing
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Saturday denied reports he was threatened with firing.
Sources familiar with the matter told ABC News that in a Friday phone call, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows suggested to Hahn that his job could be on the line if his agency didn’t authorize emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of the day.
“Representations in the press that I was threatened to be fired if we didn’t get it done by a certain date is inaccurate,” Hahn told reporters Saturday.
Hahn said he would “absolutely” take the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. He said it was authorized late Friday because science and data said it was ready, not because of “any other external pressure.”
ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.
Dec 12, 7:15 am
Friday was deadliest day since COVID-19 pandemic began, data shows
A record number of people — 3,309 — died from COVID-19 Friday, according to new data from Johns Hopkins University.
Friday’s record shattered the previous single-day record death toll of 3,124 which was set Wednesday.
Dec 12, 5:28 am
77 COVID-19 cases linked to youth basketball tournament in Santa Clara County
An outbreak of COVID-19, resulting in 77 positive cases, has been traced to a youth basketball tournament held last month in California’s Santa Clara County, public health officials said Friday.
At the tournament, held Nov. 7 and 8 at Courtside Basketball Center in Placer County, were 39 middle school and high school players, three coaches and 35 “additional contacts.”
Officials said it violated local and state orders for youth sports put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Another 17 cases outside the county have also been traced to the event, officials said in a news release.
“This outbreak is a troubling reminder that the widespread prevalence of COVID-19 in our community threatens all of us, and does not limit itself to geographic boundaries,” Dr. Monika Roy, Santa Clara County’s assistant public health officer, said in a statement.
“Public Health orders, directives, and guidance around contact sports and sporting events are in place for a reason. The risk of transmission in these settings can easily result in community spread that threatens the most vulnerable among us.”
The California Department of Public Health is investigating the incident, according to the news release, and Courtside’s website said the center is closed until further notice “out of precaution with the statewide lockdown and for the safety of all.”
The outbreak comes as California is seeing record numbers of COVID-19 cases during the holiday season.
Dec 12, 1:59 am
FedEx to begin delivering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine across US
FedEx took to Twitter Friday night to announce that it’s on track to start delivering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which was given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration Friday.
“We’re in motion to begin delivering our first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from @pfizer -@BioNTech_Group to communities across the U.S.,”FedEx tweeted.
In a press release, the transportation company — which has more than 90 cold chain facilities across five continents — said it will use its FedEx Priority Overnight service to get vaccines to dosing centers around the country, and soon, the world.
“Vaccine distribution will be balanced among major cargo carriers, and FedEx is working closely with healthcare customers to prepare for additional vaccine shipments and transportation of critical vaccine-related supplies,” they said in their statement.
Dec 11, 10:16 pm
Mexico approves emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
Mexico approved emergency use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.
The announcement came shortly before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that it had authorized Pfizer’s vaccine. Mexico has recorded over 1.2 million cases and 113,000 deaths — fourth-most globally behind the U.S., Brazil and India.
The United Kingdom, Bahrain and Canada have also authorized the vaccine.
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle
Dec 11, 1:11 pm
US sets records for new cases, deaths, hospitalizations
The U.S. has set new records for the most deaths in one week, the highest number of new cases in a week and the most Americans hospitalized in one week, according to ABC News’ analysis of COVID Tracking Project data.
In the past seven days, the U.S. has reported more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases — roughly equivalent to 142 Americans testing positive for the virus every minute.
Daily case numbers have been on the rise for nearly three months, increasing nationally by 480% since mid-September.
The U.S. broke a hospitalization record again on Thursday, surpassing 107,000 patients, a 6.5% rise from a week earlier. Fifteen states have reported record numbers since Sunday.
With the U.S. is now averaging over 2,300 new coronavirus related deaths a day, more Americans are dying from COVID-19 every day than ever before.
“We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Thursday at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.
In the 9/ll attacks, almost 3,000 Americans died, and more than 2,400 were killed when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.
ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.
Dec 11, 12:30 pm
New York City ending indoor dining
Indoor dining will end Monday in New York City to help stem the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
Outdoor dining and takeout will continue.
Indoor dining accounted for 1.43% of recent spread, said Cuomo, adding that a 74% spike in infections is linked to indoor gatherings at private homes.
Indoor dining capacity could be reduced elsewhere in New York depending on the numbers, the governor said.
Before the governor’s announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he felt “tremendous empathy for restaurant owners.”
“I feel for them,” the mayor added, “but sometimes it’s smart to say, ‘Look, if you take an action now, you can stop much worse things from happening later."”
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.
Dec 11, 10:56 am
Snow leopard at Louisville Zoo has virus
A snow leopard at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky has SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories.
Testing is ongoing for two other snow leopards.
“Samples from three snow leopards were taken after they showed signs of respiratory illness,” the Department of Agriculture said. “It is suspected that they acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member, despite precautions taken by the zoo.”
All three animals are expected to fully recover.
This is the first snow leopard in the U.S. to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, though there have been confirmed cases in other big cats in zoos and conservations centers.
ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.
Dec 11, 7:59 am
HHS secretary says Pfizer vaccine will be approved, vaccinations could start next week
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on ABC News’ Good Morning America Friday morning that COVID-19 vaccinations could come Monday or Tuesday.
He said the Pfizer vaccine will be approved, they are just working out the details and finalizing the fact sheet on allergy warnings.
“We weren’t counting on it in terms of getting to the projections that you and I have talked about about having enough vaccine for the second quarter,” he told George Stephanopoulos. “The Sanofi vaccine could be an important additional technology for later rounds of vaccination as one goes forward later in 2021.”
Azar also said the Food and Drug Administration will proceed with the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
He said 20 million Americans will be vaccinated this month, up to 50 million total in January and the U.S. believes “we could have 100 million vaccinations in arm by the end of February.”
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