Coronavirus updates: Tiny island nation confirms 1st case of COVID-19

By MORGAN WINSOR, EMILY SHAPIRO and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide.

Over 51.5 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.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica. The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 10.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 239,896 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 developed Wednesday. All times Eastern:

Nov 11, 10:46 pm
Pfizer vaccine temperature requirements ‘greatest drug distribution challenge’ yet, experts say

Should it be authorized, Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine needs to be kept at extremely cold temperatures — which could pose a challenge in distributing doses across the country, pharmaceutical experts said Wednesday on ABC News Live Prime.

The freezers needed to properly store Pfizer’s vaccine at around minus 70 degrees Celsius are “almost like unicorns in health care — they’re far and hard to find,” Soumi Saha, senior director of pharmacy consulting company Premier, Inc., told ABCNL.

“[It’s] the coldest that any vaccine or any drug has ever been required to be stored at,” Saha said. “And so this is going to be the greatest drug distribution challenge that our country has ever faced because of the unique circumstances around the temperature requirement.”

Keeping Pfizer’s vaccine stable when distributing it in rural communities might pose another challenge, according to Azra Behlim, senior director of pharmacy sourcing and program services at Vizient.

“That is going to be a lot more difficult, because now we need to find a way to maintain that temperature while we are driving it out 20 or 50 miles in order to do an inoculation,” Behlim told ABCNL.

Earlier this week, Pfizer and partner Biotech announced that their vaccine was “found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19” based on an early analysis that included 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in trial participants. More safety data is needed prior to authorization.

Pfizer has committed to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

The company will distribute vaccine doses in special temperature-controlled thermal boxes packed with dry ice. Most will go from its Kalamazoo, Michigan, site directly to places where the vaccines are needed.

Upon reaching their destination, the doses can be repacked with dry ice and stored for up to 15 days, stored in normal refrigerators for up to five days or kept in ultra-low-temperature freezers for up to six months. These freezers are typically only available at large medical centers.

Nov 11, 8:14 pm
US sets new record in daily cases

The U.S. reported a record 144,270 daily COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

It marked the first time the number of new cases nationally crossed 140,000. The figure also broke a record set the day before by more than 13,000 cases, based on data from the tracker.

There were 1,421 deaths due to COVID-19 reported on Wednesday.

Nov 11, 6:36 pm
Ohio governor announces new mask requirements, restrictions on social gatherings

As Ohio sees record numbers of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Mike DeWine issued new requirements around mask-wearing and restrictions on social gatherings, including dancing.

“Now we have been warned that when it got colder and drier and people were indoors more, the virus would rise up again,” DeWine said during a televised address to Ohioans Wednesday evening. “It certainly has. This surge is much more intense, widespread and dangerous.”

Every single county in Ohio has a high rate of virus spread, the governor said, and on Tuesday the state reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases, with 6,508. Hospitalizations, including the number of patients in intensive care units, have also reached record levels, he said.

To help curb the spread of the virus, DeWine announced that the state’s mask mandate will be reissued on Wednesday with three additional provisions: Each business will be required to post a face-covering requirement sign at all public entrances to the store; each store will be responsible for ensuring customers and employees are wearing masks; and a new retail compliance unit will inspect businesses to ensure compliance of the mask order.

A first violation will result in a written warning, while a record will result in the closure of the store for up to 24 hours, the governor said.

“Most retail businesses have done a good job providing a safe place for their employees to work and for their customers to shop. However, it’s clear that there is some businesses where mask-wearing simply lacking,” he said.

“We must do this to protect our front-line workers,” he said.

The governor also announced “significant restrictions” on social gatherings that will be issued in the next few days, following “rapid spread” of the virus due to events like wedding receptions and funerals.

Under the forthcoming order, “open congregate areas can no longer be open,” he said, and people need to be seated and wear masks unless eating or drinking. The order also prohibits activities like dancing and games, he said.

DeWine warned that restaurants, bars and fitness centers may be forced to close if the current trajectory continues. The state will be revisiting a decision on those businesses on Nov. 19, he said.
 
The governor also pleaded with the public to refrain from hosting and attending gatherings, and to avoid celebrating Thanksgiving with those outside your household or bubble.
 
“We just need to avoid any unnecessary additional risk right now,” he said.

Nov 11, 4:40 pm
California reports 42.7% weekly increase in cases

California is experiencing a 42.7% weekly increase in COVID-19 cases.

California has over 984,000 confirmed cases and at least 18,070 fatalities, according to state data.

The seven-day positivity rate stands at 4.3%.

Nov 11, 4:15 pm
Passenger on 1st Caribbean cruise tests positive

A passenger on board the first cruise to set sail in the Caribbean since the spring has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to The Points Guy (TPG) and another passenger.
 
The ship is now headed back to Bridgetown, Barbados, where it originated on Saturday.
 
All passengers were tested before arriving in Barbados and before boarding on Saturday. According to TPG, the passenger felt ill Wednesday and tested positive. All 53 passengers are now quarantined in their rooms.

The cruise line did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
 
ABC News’ Sam Sweeney contributed to this report

Nov 11, 3:50 pm
PolicyLab forecasts ‘substantial growth’ in Northeast, Mid-Atlantic

Hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and ventilator use are now increasing throughout all 50 states, according to the new weekly report from PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In four states — Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota — COVID-19 patients are occupying 50% or more of ICU beds.

PolicyLab said it’s “forecasting substantial growth” in cases in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in the next four weeks.

PolicyLab added, “We project that major cities in California will have significant case growth into mid-December, as will Portland and Seattle.”

ABC News’ Brian Hartman contributed to this report

Nov 11, 3:13 pm
White House political director, 2 other aides test positive

White House political director Brian Jack and at least two other White House aides have tested positive for COVID-19, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

At least 12 people in President Donald Trump’s orbit have tested positive since White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tested positive one week ago.

ABC News’ John Santucci and Katherine Faulders contributed to this report

Nov 11, 3:03 pm
Maryland vs Ohio state football game canceled due to ‘elevated’ cases

This Saturday’s football game between Maryland and Ohio State has been canceled “due to an elevated number of COVID-19 cases” on Maryland’s team, the school announced.

In the last week, eight football players have tested positive, the school said.

“The responsible thing for us to do is pause football activities,” Athletics Director Damon Evans said.

The game will not be rescheduled, Maryland said. Four other games featuring ranked teams, including No. 1 Alabama, have been postponed this weekend due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Nov 11, 2:29 pm
NY restaurants, bars to close at 10 pm

Restaurants, bars and gyms in New York will close at 10 p.m. each night beginning this Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, citing those locations as “main spreaders” of COVID-19.

Cuomo also said no more than 10 people are allowed in a private home for gatherings.

The statewide positivity rate stands at 2.9%.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report

Nov 11, 12:53 pm
Broadway will be part of Macy’s TV-only Thanksgiving parade

Broadway will be back for one day as a part of Macy’s TV-only Thanksgiving Day parade. Participating in the televised event will be: “Hamilton,” “Mean Girls,” “Jagged Little Pill” and “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations.”
 
The parade telecast will also include pre-taped performances from representatives of groups including the New York City Pride March, the New York City Ballet, the West Point Marching Band and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

Nov 11, 12:06 pm
UK’s death toll tops 50,000

British health authorities reported 595 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the United Kingdom’s death toll to over 50,000.

The U.K. is the first country in the European region to top 50,000 deaths.

Nov 11, 11:32 am
Italy becomes 10th country to surpass 1 million cases

Italy confirmed 32,961 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing its tally soaring past 1 million.

The latest daily case count is just under the country’s all-time high of 39,809 on Nov. 7

Italy also registered an additional 623 fatalities from COVID-19 in the past day, the highest since April but still under the country’s record of 919 deaths on March 27.

The nationwide, cumulative total now stands at 1,028,424 confirmed cases with 42,953, according to data published Wednesday by Italy’s civil protection agency.

Italy, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, is battling a rising number of COVID-19 infections as a second wave sweeps much of Europe. It’s the tenth country in the world to surpass 1 million confirmed cases, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Nov 11, 11:22 am
United disinfecting its busiest airports with electrostatic spraying

United said it’s disinfecting lobbies and terminals with electrostatic spraying at 35 of its busiest airports: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Washington Reagan, Denver, Dallas Fort Worth, Newark, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Guam, Honolulu, Washington Dulles, Houston George Bush, Kona, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, LaGuardia, London Heathrow, Orlando, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, Maui, Chicago O’Hare, Portland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Antonio, Seattle, San Francisco, Sacramento, Orange County and Tampa.

Terminals at those airports are disinfected a few times a week and United said it plans to introduce the electrostatic spray cleaning nightly by early December.

The electrostatic sprayer can “reach and uniformly coat germ-prone surfaces, including areas that conventional trigger sprays may easily miss,” United said.

The airline said it hopes to expand to more airports next year.

ABC News’ Gio Benitez contributed to this report.

Nov 11, 10:40 am
Ethiopia’s case count tops 100,000 amid fears of civil war

Ethiopia has confirmed more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases, becoming one of just a handful of countries across Africa that have surpassed the grim milestone.

Other African countries with over 100,000 confirmed cases as of Wednesday are Egypt with 109,000, Morocco with 265,000 and South Africa with 740,000. Meanwhile, the 54-nation African continent is approaching 2 million confirmed cases, according to the latest data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The development comes as Ethiopia, one of Africa’s most populous countries, appears to be on the brink of civil war amid increasingly deadly skirmishes in its northern Tigray region between federal forces and Tigray’s ones.

The United Nations and other groups have warned of a brewing humanitarian crisis that could affect up to 9 million people.

Nov 11, 9:56 am
England to give university students 7-day window to travel home for Christmas

University students in England will be given a seven-day window next month to travel home before Christmas, with school campuses providing mass testing before they leave, according to new guidance published Wednesday by the U.K. government.

After a second nationwide lockdown ends on Dec. 2, students will be allowed to travel home on staggered departure dates set by universities from Dec. 3 to Dec. 9.

“The student travel window will mean students can travel having just completed the four-week period of national restrictions, reducing the risk of transmission to family and friends at home,” the U.K. government said in a press release announcing the new guidance.

The government is urging universities to transition to remote learning by Dec. 9 so students can continue their education while also having the option to return home to study from there. The government said it will also work closely with universities to establish mass COVID-19 testing capacity.

“Tests will be offered to as many students as possible before they travel home for Christmas, with universities in areas of high prevalence prioritised,” the government said. “If a student tests positive before their departure they will need to remain in self-isolation for the required period of 10 days. Moving all learning online by 9 December gives enough time for students to complete the isolation period and return home for Christmas.”

English students at universities in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland are instructed to follow the guidance relevant to where they are living before returning home.

The U.K. government’s universities minister, Michelle Donelan, acknowledged that the upcoming holidays “will feel different this year” due to the unprecedented situation.

“We have worked really hard to find a way to do this for students, while limiting the risk of transmission,” Donelan said in a statement Wednesday. “Now it is vital they follow these measures to protect their families and communities, and for universities to make sure students have all the wellbeing support they need, especially those who stay on campus over the break.”

Nov 11, 9:03 am
Texas becomes first US state to surpass one million cases

Texas has confirmed its one-millionth case of COVID-19, becoming the first U.S. state to do so.

The Lone Star state confirmed 12,337 new cases in the past day, bringing its cumulative total to 1,010,364 confirmed cases as of early Wednesday. The state also registered an additional 114 fatalities from COVID-19, bringing its death toll to 19,337, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Texas’ seven-day moving average of daily positive COVID-19 tests stands at 10%. Current hot spots within the southwestern state include the areas of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Meanwhile, California is on track to become the second U.S. state to surpass one million confirmed cases. The Golden State confirmed 8,135 new cases in the past day, bringing its cumulative total to 989,432 confirmed cases as of early Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Nov 11, 8:31 am
Europe clinches deal to buy up to 300M doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Wednesday that they have reached an agreement to supply up to 300 million doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine to Europe.

The agreement with the European Commission provides a supply of 200 million doses and an option to request an additional 100 million doses, according to a joint press release from Pfizer and BioNTech.

Doses allocated for European Union member states will be produced in BioNTech’s manufacturing sites in Germany as well as at Pfizer’s site in Belgium. If the vaccine candidate receives authorization from the European Medicines Agency, then doses will be ordered by the EU member states who have elected to receive the vaccine as part of the agreement.

Deliveries are anticipated to start by the end of 2020, subject to clinical success and regulatory approval, according to the press release.

“Today’s finalized supply agreement with the European Commission represents the largest initial order of vaccine doses for Pfizer and BioNTech to date and a major step toward our shared goal of making a COVID-19 vaccine available to vulnerable populations,” Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement Wednesday.

Last month, the European Medicines Agency began a rolling review of data on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine candidate to determine whether the drug should be authorized for use.

Pfizer, a New York-based pharmaceutical giant, and BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, announced Monday that the experimental vaccine appears to be at least 90% effective in an early analysis. The European Medicines Agency said in a statement Monday that it “has not yet had a chance to formally assess these efficacy data.”

Nov 11, 5:57 am
Vanuatu confirms first case since pandemic began

A small island nation in the southwestern Pacific Ocean has remained untouched by the coronavirus pandemic — until now.

Vanuatu confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health said the case is a 23-year-old man who had returned to the archipelago nation on Nov. 4, after traveling to the United States. He tested positive during a routine screening on the fifth day of quarantine.

The man, who hasn’t shown any symptoms, will remain in isolation until health clearance is provided, according to the health ministry.

“Physical distancing and personal protection measures were applied and maintained during the flight, throughout the arrival process, during transport to and during registration at the quarantine facility,” the ministry said in a press release. “The person had been identified during pre-travel registration as traveling from a higher-risk location, therefore was seated separately at the back of the plane and was screened and transported separately from other arriving passengers. The case did not share a room with anyone else at the quarantine facility and is reported to have adhered to all appropriate measures throughout the travel and quarantine process.”

Nov 11, 5:27 am
Russia records highest number of daily deaths

Russia registered 432 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, setting a new single-day record.

An additional 19,851 new cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed nationwide over the past day, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters. It’s the first time in six days that daily infections didn’t exceed 20,000.

The country’s cumulative total now stands at 1,836,960 cases with 31,593 deaths, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.

Moscow remains the epicenter of the country’s outbreak and recent surge. More than 22% of the newly confirmed cases — 4,477 — and nearly 17% of the new deaths — 73 — were reported in the capital, according to Russia’s 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.

The Eastern European country 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 11, 5:17 am
Nearly 1,000 inmates at Colorado jail have tested positive

The El Paso County Jail in Colorado has had 976 inmates and 85 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The outbreak at the jail was first reported on Oct. 26, when eight employees across varying assignments were found to be infected. The following day, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office announced that two more deputies who work there and eight inmates had tested positive.

“An aggressive, prioritized COVID testing schedule was implemented for staff and inmates,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement on its website, where it provides updates on the outbreaks as test results become available.

There were 911 inmates and 73 staff members who tested positive on Monday alone. It’s unclear how many total inmates were in custody that day.

“The threat of further infection will continue to increase over the next several weeks,” the sheriff’s office said. “At this point in time, there have been no inmates who have had to be hospitalized. They are all being treated in the facility by our medical provider, WellPath.”

Visitation at the jail remains closed.

Nov 11, 4:09 am
US reports another record high of over 136,000 new cases

There were 136,325 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Tuesday, marking a new single-day record, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the seventh straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 new infections. Tuesday’s tally tops the nation’s previous all-time high of 128,412 new cases

A total of 10,257,825 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 239,683 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 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.

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