National Headlines


(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 63.3 million people and killed over 1.4 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 Tuesday. All times Eastern:

Dec 01, 8:11 pm

Number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 nearly 99K in US

The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. reached a new high on Tuesday, with 98,691 hospitalizations, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project.

Indiana, Nevada and South Dakota are reporting more than 500 currently hospitalized per million people, the project said.

The data is still being disrupted by the Thanksgiving holiday, as several states reported data for more than one day and others only published partial updates on Tuesday, the COVID Tracking Project said.

The number of daily deaths from COVID-19 is starting to rebound after a post-holiday drop, it noted, with 2,473 reported on Tuesday.

Dec 01, 7:43 pm

Positivity rate nears 12% in LA County

The daily COVID-19 test positivity rate in Los Angeles County is almost 12% -- up from 7% one week ago, health officials said Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 7,593 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, which breaks a previous record set last week.

The numbers signal that "the virus is infecting more people at a faster rate than ever seen in L.A. County before," officials said.

There are 2,316 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. That number has gone up nearly every day since Nov. 1, when it was 799, officials said.

"We are in the middle of an accelerating surge in a pandemic of huge magnitude," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "This is not the time to skirt or debate the safety measures that protect us because we need every single person to use every tool available to stop the surge and save lives.”

The county began a modified stay-at-home order on Monday, putting new limits on gatherings, activities and business occupancy. The order lasts until at least Dec. 20.

-ABC News' Jen Watts contributed to this report

Dec 01, 7:07 pm

Ventilator use, ICU patients rising: HHS

Ventilator use and the number of COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit are on the rise in the U.S., according to an internal Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News Tuesday evening.

Thirty percent of ventilators in use are occupied by COVID-19 patients. That number is slightly up from the previous HHS memo. The peak was 45% in April.

About 28% of hospitals have more than 80% of their ICU beds filled. That number, which was 17%-18% during the summertime peak, is also up slightly.

The number of inpatients with COVID-19 is 21% -- which is quickly approaching the all-time peak of 24%.

-ABC News' Josh Margolin

Dec 01, 6:32 pm

1st vaccines should go to health care workers, long-term care facilities, expert panel says

Health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be the first people in line to receive a potential COVID-19 vaccine, an independent group of medical experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 on the recommendation in an emergency virtual meeting on Tuesday.

The panel's recommendations will be sent to the CDC, but ultimately it will be up to each state to determine whether to follow the guidelines on vaccine distribution.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Dec 01, 6:07 pm

CDC plans to shorten recommended quarantine time for people exposed to COVID

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Vice President Mike Pence and other attendees at Tuesday's White House coronavirus task force meeting that it planned to release guidance that would shorten the length of time it recommended people quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19, according to a senior Trump administration official who was at the meeting.

 It will recommend COVID-exposed people with a negative test quarantine for seven days, which is down from 14 days, and that COVID-exposed people with no test quarantine for 10 days (also down from 14 days), according to the official.

 The New York Times first reported on this news from Tuesday's meeting.

 Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Adm. Brett Giroir said last week the administration had been “actively working on that type of guidance” and was “reviewing the evidence.”

 The official said the move was “100% data-driven.”

-ABC News' Ben Gittleson

Dec 01, 3:49 pm

Florida tops 1 million cases

Florida has over 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the latest data from the state's Health Department.

The state reported 8,847 new cases on Tuesday, for a total of 1,008,166. There have been 18,916 deaths.

Florida is the third state to cross 1 million COVID-19 cases, following Texas and California last month.

ABC News' Scott Withers contributed to this report

Dec 01, 2:38 pm

Over 1.3 million US children have tested positive

More than 1.3 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to a weekly report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

The report, which compiles state-by-state data on cases in children, found that 153,608 new cases were reported the week ending with Nov. 26 -- that number is the highest weekly increase since the pandemic began.

The total number of children in the U.S. who tested positive for the coronavirus is now 1,337,217, according to the report, which is based on the age distribution of reported cases on health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.

Children represented 12% of all cases in states reporting cases by age, the report states.

-ABC News' Eric Strauss contributed to this report.

Dec 01, 1:07 pm
White House to hold 'Vaccine Summit'

The White House is planning to host a "COVID-19 Vaccine Summit" on Dec. 8, according to deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as several governors and executives from the private sector, plan to participate in the meeting, Morgenstern told ABC News.

The meeting is scheduled two days before the Food and Drug Administration's Advisory Committee on Immunizations is scheduled to consider Pfizer's application for the emergency use authorization for its vaccine.

"The President looks forward to convening leaders from the federal government, state governments, private sector, military, and scientific community for a comprehensive discussion with the American people as the Administration prepares to deliver this historic, life-saving vaccine to every zip code in the United States within 24 hours of an FDA approval," Morgenstern said in a statement.

It does not appear that members of President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration had been invited to the meeting. Given that the presidential inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 20, it is likely that Biden would be president when most of the vaccine distribution would occur.

-ABC News' Ben Gittleson and Brian Hartman contributed to this report.

Dec 01, 11:47 am
November marks worst month on record for cases, hospitalizations in US

More than 4.2 million people in the United States were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the month of November alone -- a figure that's higher than the total number of confirmed cases for every other country in the world except Brazil and India, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The number is roughly equivalent to one in every 76 Americans testing positive for COVID-19 in November, or 99 Americans testing positive every minute.

Throughout the month of November, the country saw a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, recording more than 100,000 each day since Nov. 4 -- 27 straight days. At least 40 U.S. states and Puerto Rico reported a record number of daily cases in November.

The United States is currently averaging 158,000 new cases per day, a 96% increase from the start of November. However, it's difficult to know exactly where the country stands given the data inconsistencies due to lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by backlogs from the holiday.

November also marked the deadliest month for COVID-19 in the United States since May, with 36,745 fatalities from the disease. The country currently accounts for 18.3% of the global death toll in the coronavirus pandemic. The nation's seven-day average of daily COVID-19 deaths has increased by nearly 80% since the beginning of November.

Last week, there were two days with over 2,000 new deaths reported nationwide -- the first time that threshold had been crossed on consecutive days since late April.

Meanwhile, more Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 now than ever before. That figure topped 96,000 on Monday and is well on track to surpass 100,000 before the end of the week.

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in western states is now the highest it's been since the beginning of the pandemic, while that figure is reaching near records in midwestern and southern states. In turn, states across the country are warning that hospital systems are on the brink of collapse.

ABC News' Benjamin Bell, Brian Hartman, Soorin Kim and Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.

Dec 01, 10:44 am
FDA commissioner meets with White House chief of staff amid tensions over vaccine approval

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was seen arriving at the White House on Tuesday morning ahead of his scheduled meeting with President Donald Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

It's unclear if Trump is participating in the meeting.

A source told ABC News that the meeting was called amid frustrations that the FDA hasn't moved faster in authorizing emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Hahn issued a statement ahead of the meeting, defending his agency's timeline.

"Let me be clear -- our career scientists have to make the decision and they will take the time that’s needed to make the right call on this important decision," Hahn said. "We want to move quickly because this is a national emergency, but we will make sure that our scientists take the time they need to make an appropriate decision. It is our job to get this right and make the correct decision regarding vaccine safety and efficacy."

The FDA is already moving at an accelerated pace in going through data related to the vaccine candidate, but it's a process that takes weeks given the sheer volume and the stakes for getting it right.

"The amount of data submitted to the FDA includes thousands of pages of technical information that must be divided up and reviewed by experts from different disciplines. Once the reviews by the various experts are completed, they are then integrated into an overall review," a spokesperson for the agency told ABC News in a statement Tuesday. "Completion of these reviews involves such things as ensuring that the manufacturing process and the controls on manufacturing are appropriate, checking statistical analyses performed to ensure that they were done properly and doing additional analyses, as necessary, to look at the effect of the vaccine on subsets of individuals who might be at greater risk of adverse effects."

Meanwhile, an FDA spokesperson also confirmed to ABC News that Hahn had recently self-quarantined "out of an abundance of caution," following potential exposure at the agency's campus in White Oak, Maryland. He chose a remote location and continued working.

"Dr. Hahn has worked every single day of this pandemic, including weekends, holidays and more," the spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders, Anne Flaherty and Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report.

Dec 01, 10:16 am
F1 champion Lewis Hamilton tests positive, will miss Sakhir Grand Prix

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton said he will miss the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain this weekend after testing positive for COVID-19.

After having three negative test results this past week, the 35-year-old British racing driver said he woke up Monday morning with "mild symptoms" and requested another test which came back positive. He said he has immediately gone into self-isolation for 10 days.

"I'm devastated that I won't be racing this weekend," Hamilton said in a statement posted on his official Instagram account Tuesday. "Since we started the season in June, my team and I have been taking all the precautions we possibly can and following the regulations everywhere we've been in order to stay safe."

Hamilton, whose victory at the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul on Nov. 15 sealed the Formula One championship and his record-equaling seventh world title, said he considers himself "really lucky" to only have mild symptoms and that he will do his best "to stay fit and healthy."

"Please look after yourselves out there, you can never be too careful," he said. "These are worrying times for everyone and we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves and each other."

Dec 01, 8:57 am
Netherlands makes face masks mandatory indoors

People are now required to wear face masks in all indoor public spaces in the Netherlands.

The Dutch government is one of the last in Europe to introduce such a mandate.

The new rule, which came into force Tuesday, applies to everyone over the age of 13 when in publicly accessible, covered places such as airports, barber shops and hair salons, covered car parks and gas stations, public transportation including platforms, town halls and retail stores. Students and teachers will also have to wear masks when walking around school buildings but not when seated during lessons.

Places of worship and buildings not accessible to the general public are exempt.

Those who ignore the mask mandate face a fine of up to 95 euros (about $114).

Dec 01, 7:47 am
Ex-CDC head says this is 'the single most complicated vaccination program in American history'

The former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that although he expects a COVID-19 vaccine to be approved soon, he also anticipates "some bumps in the road."

"When you vaccine millions of people, some people get really sick after the vaccination and you don't know whether that was the vaccine or that was just coincidence. So that has to be studied carefully or you're going to get all sorts of wild rumors flying around," Dr. Tom Frieden, who is now the president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.

"There may be production problems, there may be rumors, there may be people who don't want to take it even if you do have the vaccine," he added. "So this is probably, George, the single most complicated vaccination program in American history."

Although a vaccine may be right around the corner, Frieden said people must remain vigilant this winter by wearing masks, washing hands, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings.

"We have to double down on safety protocols or we're going to see the worst season we've yet had for COVID," he warned. "We can all do more."

Dec 01, 7:26 am
Europe's regulator to decide on Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by Dec. 29, Moderna's by Jan. 12

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Tuesday that it could decide by Dec. 29 whether to recommend granting a conditional marketing authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Meanwhile, the European drug regulator said its assessment of another COVID-19 vaccine developed by American biotechnology company Moderna, which has also applied for a conditional marketing authorization, could be completed by Jan. 12.

In the European Union, conditional marketing authorizations allow for the approval of medicines or vaccines "that fulfill an unmet medical need on the basis of less complete data than normally required," according to the EMA. However, the data must show that the benefits outweigh any risks, and companies must provide further data from ongoing or new studies once a conditional marketing authorization has been granted.

The EMA said its reviews of both vaccine candidates "will proceed under an accelerated timeline" and that decisions could be issued "within weeks, depending on whether the data submitted are sufficiently robust and complete to show the quality, safety and effectiveness of the vaccine."

"Such a short timeframe is only possible because EMA has already reviewed some data on the vaccine during a rolling review," the agency said in a statement Tuesday. "These timelines are based on the type of data assessed so far in the context of the rolling review and may be subject to change as evaluation proceeds."

If the EMA decides to recommend granting a conditional marketing authorization, the agency said the European Commission will then fast-track its decision-making process with a view to granting an authorization that's valid in all EU and European Economic Area member states "within days."

Dec 01, 5:56 am
Pfizer, BioNTech seek vaccine approval in Europe

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said they have submitted an application for conditional approval of their COVID-19 vaccine with the European Medicines Agency.

The submission, which occurred Monday, completes the rolling review process that the two companies initiated with the regulator on Oct. 6.

"Today’s announcement marks another key milestone in our efforts to fulfill our promise to do everything we can to address this dire crisis given the critical public health need," Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement Tuesday. "We have known since the beginning of this journey that patients are waiting, and we stand ready to ship COVID-19 vaccine doses as soon as potential authorizations will allow us."

If the vaccine candidate, called BNT162b2, is approved, the companies said it could potentially be available for use in Europe before the end of the year.

"As a company located in the heart of Europe, today’s milestone is important to us as we continue to seek to enable a worldwide supply upon potential approval of BNT162b2," BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin said in a statement Tuesday. "We will continue to work with regulatory agencies around the world to enable the rapid distribution, should the vaccine receive the approval, contributing to the joint efforts to let the world heal and regain its normal pace of life."

Dec 01, 5:27 am
US reports over 157,000 new cases

There were 157,901 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the 28th straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Monday's count is down from a peak of 205,557 new cases last Friday.

An additional 1,172 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Monday, less than the all-time high of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

COVID-19 data may be skewed in the coming days and weeks due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.

A total of 13,545,017 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 268,087 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 over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Motor vessel Angeles via U.S. Coast GuardBY: JULIA JACOBO, ABC NEWS

(MIAMI) — The man who was rescued 86 miles off the coast of Florida after his boat capsized didn't think he would make it back to shore alive, the satellite call made after he was found revealed.

The search for 62-year-old Florida resident Stuart Bee began once his family alerted the U.S. Coast Guard that he failed to dock at the Port Canaveral Marina after departing Friday evening, saying he only planned to be out for a few hours, according to Coast Guard officials.

The news of Bee's rescue Sunday morning spread after the captain of the Angeles, the 225-foot-container ship that spotted him in the Atlantic Ocean, called the Coast Guard to tell them Bee was alive and well.

"We just rescued one person from a capsizing boat at sea," the captain of the Angeles told Coast Guard Lt. Shawn Antonelli in a satellite call, which was released by the Coast Guard on Tuesday.

"That is the gentleman we've been looking for," Antonelli said after the captain gave him the man's name. "Thank you."

The captain replied, "I am very happy for this.”

Once Bee got on the line, he told Antonelli that he fell asleep after he'd been working on his engine, which was making squealing noises. He woke up Sunday between midnight and daybreak to water gushing into the back of his boat, Bee said.

"I didn't see anybody," he said. "I thought, 'This is it.’"

When Bee saw the Angeles in the distance, he initially could not tell whether it was coming for him. He took off his shirt and waved it periodically, and the cargo ship took about a half-hour to get to him, he said.

Bee said he tried to swim into the middle of his boat three times to grab his personal locator beacon and was about to go down for a fourth time when he saw the Angeles.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Veronica Dunn-Depretis described Bee's rescue to ABC News as "amazing," adding that he is lucky to be alive.

It is unclear why Bee's 32-foot pleasure boat named Sting Ray capsized, Dunn-Depretis said. Bee was not injured in the ordeal, she added.

ABC News' Bill Hutchinson and Ben Stein contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Courtesy @TheMeowtainGiraffe via InstagramBY: IVAN PEREIRA AND DRAGANA JOVANOVIC, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — The truth behind the pair of mysterious monoliths is out there, and investigators on two continents are hard at work searching for clues.

Now, an eyewitness has shed some light on how the 10- to 12-foot metal beam was removed from the Utah desert last week.

Mike Newlands, 38, of Denver, told ABC News that he, his roommate and two other friends decided to drive to the Red Rock desert to see the object, which went viral after it was discovered Nov. 18. The group was among the scores of other hikers who traveled to the region to see the mysterious structure and take some pictures.

Around 8:30 p.m. Friday, while Newlands and his friends were hanging out in front of the structure, he said a group of four men came to the monolith and took it down.

"We were shell shocked. We were like, 'Holy smokes,'" Newlands told ABC News. "It was like watching an Internet meme die in real life."

Newlands took photos of the unidentified group removing the structure. The people who removed it kept to themselves, Newlands said, and then left quickly.

A spokeswoman for the Utah state office for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management told ABC News it is investigating the installation of the structure since it is illegal to install any object on public land without permission from the agency.

Newlands said he heard the group call the monolith "litter," and he said he believes it shouldn't have been put in the desert in the first place.

"If people are going to this, get permission, be respectful," he said.

The BLM said the attention generated by the monolith resulted in trash problems for the desert as visitors left human waste and other garbage in the area near the monolith's location. The agency also warned that visiting the spot was not safe, because there is no cellphone service or bathrooms, and specialized vehicles are recommended to traverse the terrain.

On Monday, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office said it wouldn't investigate the structure's installation or removal, because it was private property and no one claimed responsibility for putting it up or owning it. The office did not immediately return messages for updates on the case Tuesday.

Officials nearly 6,000 miles away in northeastern Romania were also scratching their heads over a similar monolith that was discovered Nov. 26. Just like the object in Utah, the approximately 10-foot mysterious beam disappeared from its spot in the city of Piatra Neamt on Tuesday, according to city officials.

Rocsana Josanu, the culture and heritage official for Piatra Neamt, told ABC News she was baffled by the object's arrival. The land where it was discovered is a protected archeological site that dates back to the second century B.C., so any work on the land requires permission from the government, she said.

"It was facing Mt. Ceahlau or the 'Holy Mountain' as we call it. So, maybe it was used in some ritual," Josanu told ABC News. "We are looking into it.”

The city's mayor, Andrei Carabelea, offered some humorous hypotheses behind the structure in a Facebook post.

"My guess is that some alien, cheeky and terrible teenagers left home with their parents UFO and started planting metal monoliths around the world. First in Utah and then at Piatra Neamt. I am honored that they chose our city," he wrote.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Scientists, students and Puerto Ricans are among those mourning the collapse of the iconic radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

The telescope collapsed Tuesday morning after showing signs of extreme weakness. The radio-telescope had already suffered major damages after a cable that helped support the 900-ton platform hanging at 450 feet above the dish broke in August. Weeks later, a second cable gave in, putting the telescope at greater risk.

Initial findings show that the top of all three support towers holding the platform ripped, dropping the instrument to the 1,000-foot-wide reflector dish, according to the National Science Foundation.

The NSF said no injuries were reported. The observatory's learning center reported significant damage amid the collapse of the radio-telescope, the agency said in a news release.

Plans to demolish and decommission the radio-telescope due to a possible risk of collapse were already announced by NSF on Nov. 19.

According to the observatory's director, Francisco Córdova, a structural analysis is being done on the reflector and some other buildings at the observatory to check for further damage. Atmospheric engineer companies are standing by to start working with any potential climate impact due to the collapse.

Even though Córdova said NSF "did the best that they could with what they have," he added that there were some options at a point when the structure wasn't so unstable.

"There were a series of options that could've been put in place at a certain time if the decision would have been taken relatively fast," the observatory director said during a press conference.

"We will keep looking for ways to reestablish a similar capacities or create superior capacities," Córdova added.

Some took to social media sharing messages of what the observatory meant to them.

"What I will miss the most is the joy that we found at the Observatory. The sheer joy of sharing astronomical discovery with people from all walks of life, something we could do at Arecibo only because of where it was," one Twitter user posted.

"Arecibo Observatory touched the lives of so many people," the Planetary Society tweeted.

After the NSF's announcement last month, supporters started a petition requesting action to stabilize the telescope. As of Tuesday morning, there were over 50,000 signatures.

The famous Arecibo Observatory had been in service for 57 years and was responsible for tracking asteroids and made some groundbreaking discoveries.

For many scientists, the radio-telescope was a key instrument in astronomy and a place of pride.

"It represents half of my professional life. It was my home," Jonathan S. Friedman, a senior research associate at the Arecibo Observatory, said in an interview with WAPA-TV Tuesday.

During the interview Friedman said he heard an intense rumbling noise around 7:50 a.m. local time that lasted some seconds. Friedman said he took a picture showing the broken towers that were holding the platform.


Brianna Mancini/iStockBY: IVAN PEREIRA, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — New York City officials are advising senior citizens to avoid as much nonessential travel outside of their households as the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations jump.

The city's Health Department issued an advisory Tuesday that elderly and New Yorkers with underlying health conditions should "limit activities outside the home, except leaving home to travel to work or school, or for essential purposes including medical care, grocery shopping or pharmacy necessities.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said the coronavirus situation is getting worse and cases are expected to increase in the coming weeks. Chokshi said the city's hospitals have more than 1,100 COVID-19 patients.

"That's twice as many as were hospitalized less than three weeks ago and the highest number since early June," he said during the mayor's Tuesday briefing.

Chokshi said the advisory is specifically directed at New Yorkers over 65 since they have a higher risk of infection.

New York City, which was once the epicenter of the virus, has seen its seven-day average of new cases surge from 622 on Nov. 1 to 1,437 on Nov. 28, according to the city's Health Department. During that same period, the seven-day average of new hospitalizations increased from 46 to 112, according to the health data.

Mayor de Blasio said New Yorkers need to come together and adhere to these precautions, along with the other health guidelines such as mask wearing and social distancing, if they want these numbers to come down.

"If we are not successful in driving down these numbers soon, of course, there's the real possibility of much greater restrictions. So we have to do this work individually if we want to avoid those restrictions," he said at the news conference.

The mayor also called on New Yorkers to address another health crisis gripping the city: a blood shortage. De Blasio said the city's blood supply is down to three days when the ideal blood supply is seven days.

"There haven't been corporate blood drives and blood drives at colleges and ... government offices," he said. "[These] things that used to make such a difference.”

The mayor said the city is looking for at least 25,000 New Yorkers to donate blood this month, and the New York Blood Center is increasing its incentives for interested donors.

The center is offering prizes, such as a VIP tour of the Empire State Building, New York Jets tickets and gift certificates, for donations during the month.

"We're going to keep giving you updates to remind you how we're doing and how much we need. But everyone, you're going to feel so good after you give blood," de Blasio said. "You're going to feel good, because you're going to feel in your heart that you did something so good for your fellow New Yorker.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(ATLANTA) -- A group of independent experts voted Tuesday that health care personnel treating patients -- as well as workers and residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities -- should get the first shots of a COVID-19 vaccine when one is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on vaccines, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices or ACIP, voted Tuesday on who it recommends should receive the initial limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine.

Early in the meeting, Beth Bell, a clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington and leader of the committee's vaccine work group, took a moment to acknowledge the severity of COVID-19 in the country saying an average of one person is dying from the disease every minute.

"In the time it takes us to have this ACIP meeting 180 people will have died from COVID-19, so we are acting none too soon," she said.

The committee discussed how to prioritize vaccine distribution within the population of health care workers, specifically, including considerations for pregnant or breastfeeding health care personnel since the vaccine candidates have not been studied in how they affect pregnant women. The recommendations include prioritizing health care personnel in direct contact with patients and who can't telework, those who provide services to patients or family members of patients and those who handle infectious materials before moving on to vaccinate other groups.

"Vaccinating healthcare personnel supports the principle of maximizing benefits and minimizing harms through what we are calling the multiplier effect," explained Dr. Kathleen Dooling, Medical Officer for the Division of Viral Diseases, the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and the CDC.

"Protection of health care personnel leads to preservation of health care capacity, and better health outcomes for all. It promotes justice because health care personnel put themselves at risk and will be essential to carry out the vaccination program. Vaccinating healthcare personnel also has the potential to mitigate health inequities, because the group includes a broad range of occupations, inclusive of low wage earners and racial and ethnic minority groups," Dooling added.

Nancy Messonier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at CDC, also said most jurisdictions anticipate being able to vaccinate all health care workers within three weeks.

The recommendations also include guidance for hospitals and local health departments working on plans to vaccinate outpatient providers and personnel outside the hospital setting. They also suggest medical facilities should stagger vaccinations for people working in the same unit in the event of any side effects that could cause people to miss work. After the recommendations are finalized by CDC, they'll be published online so states can use them to inform their own vaccine distribution plans.

The committee also discussed how to ensure that health care providers, pharmacies, and health departments tracking the administration of the vaccine can collect data on any adverse side effects and communicate that information between different data tracking systems.

“I just want to reiterate the importance that CDC places on the safety of vaccines," Messonier said.

"I know that FDA will not authorize a vaccine and ACIP will not recommend a vaccine, unless you are convinced, based on the phase three clinical trials, that the vaccines are very safe. But we all also know that vaccine safety doesn't stop there and especially for these vaccines. We're going to hold ourselves to an exceedingly high standard for safety monitoring after a vaccine is authorized and when it's rolled out," she said.

While the focus this week is on which groups of Americans can receive the first round of vaccine doses for any COVID-19 vaccine, there will be more recommendations specific to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines after the FDA reviews their requests for emergency use authorization.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has said he will work with CDC so the FDA committee considering whether vaccines should be authorized and the CDC advisory group can meet at the same time so there are recommendations for how to distribute the initial doses of vaccine available as quickly as possible as shipments start to go out to states.

Then, as more doses are produced and become more widely available, other groups of frontline workers or Americans with less risk will be able to access the vaccine.

The ACIP committee is made up of experts from around the country who make recommendations about how vaccines should be used, including who should receive certain vaccines and when, and the recommended schedule for vaccinating children. The members don't work for the government but provide independent expertise in how vaccines work, how the immune system responds, family medicine, and infectious diseases.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty ImagesBY: AARON KATESKY, ABC NEWS

(PHILADELPHIA) — Justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court appeared open to one part of Bill Cosby's plea to overturn his sex assault conviction but less sympathetic to a second part during oral arguments, held virtually, on Tuesday.

Cosby was found guilty in 2018, after a second trial, of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a decision based, in part, on the testimony of five other women -- known as prior bad-act witnesses -- who also accused Cosby of sexual misconduct but whose allegations, the defense argued, should never have been presented to the jury.

"Mr. Cosby suffered unquantifiable prejudice where the prior bad-act evidence overwhelmed his second trial," defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean said.

Several justices of Pennsylvania's highest court appeared to agree, questioning whether the testimony of the secondary accusers distracted the jury from the case's core.

"You can still get to the point, with evidence that is terribly probative, that it's just too much, and the defendant did not have a fair trial," Justice Max Baer said.

Assistant Montgomery County District Attorney Adrienne Jappe said the group of prior bad-act witnesses was whittled to five from 19 the prosecution sought to call.

"Why did you need this evidence?" Justice Christine Donohue asked. "You had the complainant, who did testify, and the question in this case was, 'Who were you going to believe?'"

Jappe responded that the other women were needed to bolster Constand's claim she did not consent to Cosby.

"Without this evidence the commonwealth would have had to largely rely on the uncorroborated testimony of Andrea Constand regarding the lack of consent," Jappe said.

The court seemed less impressed with the defense argument that Cosby never should have been tried in the first place because of a non-prosecution deal -- never put in writing -- with a previous district attorney that prompted Cosby to sit for a deposition in a civil lawsuit. In that deposition, Cosby testified about sexual encounters with women to whom he had offered Quaaludes.

"I'm struggling with your argument," Justice Kevin Dougherty said, noting that Cosby, as a celebrity, should have had more resources, savvy and is an "intellectually superior" person who should have known about self-incrimination.

Cosby, 83, has served more than two years of his sentence after he was convicted of drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.

The comedian released a statement on Tuesday that read, in part: "This morning, people around the world witnessed a beautiful presentation by Attorney Jennifer Bonjean regarding two (2) important issues — Immunity & the misuse of a law called, 404 (b) or PBAs (Prior Bad Acts Witnesses). This was not just an historic day for me, Bill Cosby, but it became a beacon of hope for those countless American Citizens of the Keystone State in Pennsylvania Correctional Facilities, whose constitutional rights might have been grossly abused because they lacked resources and means to fight prosecutorial corruption."

ABC News' Linsey Davis contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Waltham Police Department via FacebookBy JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(WALTHAM, Mass.) -- Authorities are offering a $5,000 reward to find the person, or persons, responsible for a string of violent attacks on the streets of Waltham, Massachusetts.

At least 10 men have been attacked by a blunt force object since Nov. 10, including a man out for an evening stroll, another who was taking the trash out and a Postal Service worker who was delivering mail, according to the Waltham Police Department.

A possible 11th attack on a victim who sustained injuries to the face was called into the anonymous tip line, but that attack has not been confirmed, Detective Sgt. Stephen McCarthy told reporters Tuesday at a media conference.

All of the attacks have appeared random and unprovoked, authorities said. In each attack, the victim was approached from behind, Police Chief Keith MacPherson said.

A potential motive for the attacks "appears to be the thrill of the assault -- so someone who is very violent and enjoys seeing someone hurt by this," MacPherson added.

The victims have sustained "pretty serious injuries," including fractures and lacerations to the face, MacPherson said. Some were hospitalized but all have been treated and released.

Victims range in age from their 20s to late 40s and are among a variety of demographics.

The attacks seemed to initially be confined to one apartment complex but eventually spread to the city's downtown area, police said.

Police released surveillance video over the weekend showing an individual they believe could be the suspect, described as a Black male, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-10, and 160 to 180 pounds.

Reverse 911 calls were made to residents to caution them to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings before the suspect is caught, putting the city on edge.

"There is definitely a fear factor in our city right now," McCarthy said. "We've never experienced anything like this."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


vmargineanu/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(COCOA, Fla.) -- Nursing a bullet wound to her left leg, Quasheda Pierce said she remembers saying her final tearful goodbyes to her 18-year-old son whose casket had just been lowered into his grave at a Florida cemetery when gunfire erupted.

The 39-year-old mother, whose son, Sincere Pierce, was shot to death in November by a Brevard County Sheriff's deputy, told ABC News that she recalls the burning in her leg and falling to the graveyard grass in disbelief at the chaos taking place at her child's burial service.

"I really don't know what happened. I was out," Pierce told ABC News in a phone interview. "I heard a gunshot and felt burning in my leg. The last thing I remember is I turned to my mom and said, 'I've been shot.'"

The shooting Saturday at the Riverview Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Cocoa, Florida, also left a teenage friend of her son with a leg wound.

Deputy Tod Goodyear, a spokesperson for the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, said preliminary evidence and statements from witnesses indicates that the 16-year-old wounded in the incident was responsible for the shooting.

"The investigation to date, which includes witness testimony and physical evidence, has determined that the single shot allegedly originated from the 16-year-old who apparently experienced an accidental discharge from a firearm concealed on his person during the funeral service," Goodyear said in a statement sent to ABC News on Tuesday morning. "The round penetrated and exited his leg prior to impacting Quasheda Pierce’s leg."

Goodyear said Pierce provided investigators with a statement, but the wounded juvenile, whose name was not released, is refusing to cooperate with law enforcement.

He said sheriff dispatchers received multiple 911 calls initially reporting that a male and female received injuries that were not life-threatening when shot during a funeral service.

The juvenile allegedly involved in the shooting has not been charged. Goodyear said the findings of the investigation will be presented to the State Attorney’s Office.

Pierce disputed the sheriff's account of the incident.

"No kid had a gun. I'm lost. I don't know what you're talking about," Pierce told ABC News. "These were school kids."

Goodyear had no comment on Pierce's statement. "Agents and Crime Scene Investigators are continuing to conduct the active and ongoing criminal investigation," he said.

Pierce's son and 16-year-old Angelo Crooms were fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy Nov. 13.

Sheriff's officials said Nov. 17 that deputies attempted to make a traffic stop at about 10:30 a.m. on a vehicle they suspected was possibly stolen, but the car fled. The car was later spotted by two deputies, sheriff's officials said in a statement.

Patrol car dashcam video released by the sheriff's office showed a gray car the deputies were trying to stop pull into the driveway of a home. As the deputies got out of their patrol cars and approached the vehicle, the car backed into the street and the deputies drew their weapons.

The footage showed the car appear to move in the direction of one of the deputies, identified as Jafet Santiago-Miranda, who fired several shots through the windshield after repeatedly shouting orders at the driver, identified as Crooms, to stop. Bullet holes were also found along the passenger side of the car.

"Deputy Santiago-Miranda gives repeated verbal commands, seven to be exact, for the driver of the vehicle to stop the car," Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a statement. "However, the driver of the vehicle, 16-year-old Angelo Crooms, turns and accelerates the vehicle towards Deputy Santiago-Miranda, who was then forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him."

Sincere Pierce, who was in the back seat of the car, and Crooms were both wounded in the incident and taken to a hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

Relatives of the two teens said the vehicle the boys were in was not stolen but was loaned to them by a family friend.

Santiago-Miranda was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the families of the two teens, said he disagreed with the sheriff's version of how the shooting unfolded.

Crump said he has asked for the sheriff’s office to release all footage of the incident.

“It is painfully troubling to us that this teen driver and the teen back-seat passenger were terrified and drove around deputies who approached the vehicle with guns drawn. Believe your own eyes,” Crump said in a statement. “The video shows the deputy was still shooting as the car cleared him and posed no threat.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


subinpumsom/iStockBy JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Forest management, when implemented correctly, can not only reduce the number of devastating wildfires that rage every year but also the billions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions that result from them as well, researchers have determined.

The mitigation potential for avoiding deforestation, implementing forest management activities, increasing harvest rotations and reforestation and afforestation could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 6.6 billion tons a year by 2055, according to a study published Tuesday in Nature.

The avoidance of deforestation in the tropics would have the largest impact, which could account for up to an estimated 54% of the total mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers, who used models to study the forestry activities in 16 different regions, determined. The tropics, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia contribute to the largest share of emissions mitigation in all of the scenarios modeled in the study.

The majority of the mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. would derive from forest management intensification and afforestation.

Forests are critical to stabilizing the climate and can "substantially" reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to both the oxygen the trees provide and the ability to absorb carbon in the atmosphere.

"It has long been recognized that nature-based climate change mitigation strategies, which leverage natural ecosystem carbon sequestration and storage processes, have the potential to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions," the study said.

The forest management activities could cost about $393 billion per year, which the authors project is higher than recently reported. About a quarter of the costs would come from private land managers.

However, the findings of the study "confirm that the global forest sector could play a critical role in achieving cost-effective global climate change mitigation," the authors concluded.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- A major storm system moving through the Eastern U.S. is bringing damaging and dangerous weather from Ohio to Maine and down to Florida.

There were four reported tornadoes in Florida and 19 severe damaging storm reports from Maryland to New Jersey.

Winds gusted to 105 mph as an EF-1 tornado moved through Florida’s panhandle north of Tallahassee and produced damage.

A tornado was also reported north of the Tampa Bay area with some damage reported there as well.

In the Northeast, winds gusted 60 to 89 mph from Maryland to Maine with damage reported and power outages to hundreds of thousands of residents.

Flooding was also reported in the Northeast with some areas getting more than 4 inches of rain.

Behind this storm system, snow and cold is now moving in and already up to a half a foot of snow fell in parts of Ohio where there is Winter Storm Warning.

Snow has been flying as far south as Atlanta and western North Carolina.

On Tuesday, this storm system is now in the Northeast and bringing heavy snow from western New York and Pennsylvania into Ohio and down to western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

Additionally, 6 to 12 inches of snow is expected Tuesday in western New York, Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio.

Up to half a foot of snow is also possible down the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia and North Carolina.

Behind the storm, it's cold Tuesday morning all the way to the Gulf Coast where wind chills are in the 20s even in Panama City, Florida, and in the 30s in New Orleans.

A freeze warning has been issued from Texas all the way to northern Florida.

The cold blast moves into the Northeast and the East Coast Wednesday morning with wind chills in the 20s from New York City to Raleigh.

Additionally, Tuesday is the first day of meteorological winter, which fits this occasion perfectly.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Fifteen-year-old Michael Platt has been hard at work during the pandemic, donating thousands of “snack packs” -- healthy, shelf-stable items -- to local food pantries to help other kids in need.

“Kids are no longer in school. So they are not getting the two meals that they would have gotten from school,” Platt told ABC News' Good Morning America. “I definitely have been upping my Snack Pack giveaways, and very important what we’re doing, and very important what the food pantries are doing.”

Michael has been passionate about raising awareness for ending hunger for as long as he can remember, and with the pandemic, he realized there was an even greater need, especially for children.

“COVID has had a really really big impact on childhood food insecurity, before it was one in seven kids who might be food insecure, now it’s one in four kids who might be food insecure,” he said.

Michael is no stranger to giving back. He’s the owner of Michael’s Desserts -- a one-for-one company -- where every dessert sold buys a dessert for someone in need.

Leading up to the National Day of Giving, Michael’s been using his platform to promote kindness by encouraging children to take part in “12 Tuesdays of Giving" through GivingTuesdaySpark, a youth-founded and youth-led global generosity movement.

Good Morning America celebrated Michael's charity work and recognizes the work done by other inspiring kids doing their part across the country. These kids each found purpose through their own charitable projects and remind us of the gift of giving. Here they share why they give, in their own words:

Michael Platt, 15, of Michael's Desserts

Tell us about your project: My project is packing snack packs for kids who are experiencing food insecurity. A snack pack is a small portable bag of things like protein bars, almonds, jerky, breakfast bars and water enhancer that a kid can have with them to carry them over from meal to meal. I supply these to food pantries so that kids can have them at home when they need them.

Why is it important for you to give back? It’s important to give back because there are problems in the world that need to be solved. When you do everything that you can to solve a problem, make your community better and another person does the same, then we can solve big problems.

What’s your message to inspire others? Doing everything you can doesn’t mean what you’re doing is large in scale but being large in scale is not the point. The point is to do everything that you can. If we all do everything we can, then we’re taking care of the people around us and making the world an even better place.

Chelsea Phair, 11 of Chelsea's Charity

Tell us about your project: I always wanted to help others, since I was like 5 years old & especially after I saw my parents helping others, but they always told me I was too young. So I decided that I would start my own charity where it didn't matter how old you are and I decided to start Chelsea's Charity on my 10th birthday last year. In lieu of birthday presents, I asked my friends to bring art supplies to my party so that I could add it to the supplies I was buying and make art kits for kids in shelters and foster care homes because I know how hard it is to get access to art supplies. I remember how much art has helped me through some tough times in my life and I just wanted other kids to have art so that they could help them heal, or communicate when they can't or just express themselves because I believe that ART IS A START to everything.

Why is it important for you to give back? It's so important for me to give back to others because I believe we all want to know that there is someone else out there thinking about us. Unfortunately, I also know that everyone doesn't always have access to things and that makes me want to work harder to get it to them. Especially art because I really believe that art heals. It makes me feel good knowing that me or my friends or my family were able to help someone else get access to art because we all could use a little boost in our lives sometimes.

What’s your message to inspire others? My message to inspire others is to always think about how we can help with a need that is in the world, like I learned there is a need for more access to art in the world, so I am always working hard to fill that need. Find out a need or a problem that exists and then think about how you can help fix the problem. And remember that it doesn't matter how old you are, or how well you can move around, we can all pitch in and help each other out in some way. If we all give a hand, you know, everything won't feel so heavy. :-) Love Chelsea

CJ Matthews, 13 of Blankets 4 My Buddies

Tell us about your project: My Giving Tuesday project goal is to collect 1,000 blankets to donate to local kids who need an extra dose of comfort; kids who might be experiencing traumatic situations like illness, homelessness, loneliness, loss, etc. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would love to put the blankets in bags, and recreate my Giving Tuesday NOW comfort bags concept. Comfort bags include a variety of books, gloves, toys, stress balls and fidget toys, personal hygiene products, healthy snacks, and of course, blankets. Since many are still, or going back to sheltering in place, comfort bags are a great way to help kids to keep sane, fight boredom and find comfort.

Why is it important for you to give back? Giving back is important to me because I started doing it in honor of my little sister, Karsen Angelica. When I was 5, my mom experienced a pregnancy loss and I took it hard. My parents created the Blankies 4 My Buddies project to help me cope with losing Karsen. Now it's like second nature. It makes me feel good to make others smile, and it's extra special because I know my little sister is proud of me. When Karsen didn't come home from the hospital, I can't even explain how I felt. I told my mom I never wanted another kid to experience that type of grief. Giving blankets to kids gives them a sense of security, a feeling of comfort. That's why I do it.

What’s your message to inspire others? My message is that it doesn't matter how big or small you are, or your kind act is. One small act of kindness is a step toward changing the world. My favorite quote right now is "be the change." Don't complain about anything. Be the change you want to see. Kindness has not been canceled, so go out and spread some love. The world needs it now more than ever!

Sammie Vance, 12, of Sammie's Buddy Bench Project

Tell us about your project: When I was eight years old I started Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project after hearing about a buddy bench. A buddy bench is a place for when someone is lonely, they can sit on the bench and another person can come up to them and ask them to play. I knew my school needed them. I made a comic explaining the concept and asked my community to collect plastic caps that would be recycled into the benches for my school. My mom helped me find a company that did this. I liked we could help save the environment and friendships all in one. I ended up getting enough plastic caps (1,200 lbs) for three benches in two months with caps left over to help other schools. Since then I have been able to help over 150 groups all over the country get buddy benches. I love helping others. I am 12 now and I am still collecting caps for others and speaking to groups about how to do the project in their location. Spreading Kindness one cap at a time.

Why is it important for you to give back? I think it is important to give back because you never know what someone is going through and it will just make them happy! It will make them happy and seeing them happy, it will make you happy! I also think that kindness and giving is contagious because, if you make someone happy, they will want to make others happy as well.

What’s your message to inspire others? Something I like to say is “You don’t just have to be an adult to make a difference, you can be a kid too!” It all starts with you. One small thing can make a big difference.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scharfsinn86/iStockBy JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A man has been shot and killed while he was hunting by another hunter after allegedly being mistaken for a deer.

The incident occurred on Nov. 25 at approximately 7:16 p.m. when the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office received a report from the FBI and the Red Lake Tribal Police in northern Minnesota that a hunting fatality had happened on -- or near to -- the Red Lake Reservation boundary and was being investigated.

During the investigation into the death, authorities discovered that 28-year-old Lucas Dudley of Bemidji, Minnesota, was reportedly deer hunting when he was shot by 33-year-old Rain Stately of Redby, Minnesota. The two were not hunting together.

“Near dusk, Stately stated that he observed movement of what he thought was a deer and fired one round from his rifle,” said Ernie Beitel of the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office in a statement posted to social media. “When he discovered Dudley, he immediately called 911 and is cooperating with the investigation. Dudley was found not to be wearing typical blaze orange or other high-visibility clothing.”

According to authorities, Dudley has been transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Officer for an autopsy.

Authorities did not disclose where Dudley had been struck with the bullet or how far apart the two men were when the incident occurred.

The incident is being investigated by the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Red Lake Tribal Police Department, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

No decision has been made about whether Stately will face any charges in Dudley’s death.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Go Nakamura/Getty ImagesBy MORGAN WINSOR and ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 62.7 million people and killed over 1.4 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 developed Monday. All times Eastern:

Nov 30, 8:59 pm
Record 96,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19

The United States saw another record day of COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the U.S. outbreak.

The group said the country currently has 96,039 people hospitalized with the disease, with a seven-day average of 91,331.

"Hospitalizations have doubled since November 1 and tripled since October 1. We should see 100k hospitalizations in the next couple of days," The COVID Tracking Project wrote on its Twitter account Monday night.

The group called November the "worst month of the pandemic outside of April," as the nation recorded a record 4.28 million new cases of COVID-19, over 72,000 new hospitalizations and 36,256 new deaths.

Nov 30, 8:22 pm
Trump's controversial coronavirus adviser Atlas resigns

President Donald Trump’s coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas resigned on Monday.

Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases who had supplanted Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top federal public health officials as one of Trump's top medical advisers, was reaching the end of his 130-day term as a “special government employee,” according to the official.

Fox News, where Atlas first caught Trump’s eye before the president appointed him to a paid advisory role in the White House, initially reported the news.

Atlas spoke with the president Monday, a White House official confirmed to ABC News.

Atlas did not respond to a request for comment.

Nov 30, 8:37 pm

Miami mayor tests positive

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who assumed office less than two weeks ago, announced Monday that she has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, also tested positive and was exposed to the virus by one of his patients last Wednesday, according to the mayor. The couple is currently quarantining, the mayor said.

"We both remain in good spirits and are fortunate to have only mild symptoms at this time," Mayor Cava said in a statement.

Cava, a former Miami-Dade County district commissioner, was elected as the city's first female mayor on Election Day and assumed office on Nov. 17.

The county has over 229,000 total COVID-19 cases and at least 3,835 total deaths, according to the Florida Health Department.

Nov 30, 7:37 pm

Trump's controversial coronavirus adviser Atlas resigns

President Donald Trump’s coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas resigned on Monday, according to a White House official.

Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases who had supplanted Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top federal public health officials as one of Trump's top medical advisers, was reaching the end of his 130-day term as a “special government employee,” according to the official.

Fox News, where Atlas first caught Trump’s eye before the president appointed him to a paid advisory role in the White House, initially reported the news.

Atlas spoke with the president Monday, the White House official confirmed.

Atlas did not respond to a request for comment.

-ABC News' Ben Gittleson

Nov 30, 6:43 pm

Newsom says California will receive 327,000 vaccine doses in December

California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted Monday that the state will receive 327,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

"Transparency, equity, and safety will continue to be our top priorities as we begin the distribution process for Phase 1," Newsom tweeted.

The pharmaceutical company announced earlier this month that its vaccine was more than 95% effective in its Phase 3 trial. The vaccine is given in two doses over three weeks, according to Pfizer.

Pfizer has asked the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization and a public hearing to address the request has been scheduled for Dec. 10.

The agency could make its official authorization decision shortly thereafter.

Nov 30, 6:16 pm

Ravens-Steelers game postponed for the 3rd time: ESPN

The NFL matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, which was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, has been postponed for the third time, according to ESPN.

A source told ESPN that the game, which was rescheduled for Tuesday would be postponed to Wednesday. The game was first re-scheduled for Sunday.

The team was supposed to practice and board a plane for the game Monday, however, that was put on hold while they waited for test results, according to ESPN.

The Ravens have had 22 players test positive for COVID-19 or get identified as a high-risk close contact over the past nine days. MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of the infected players.

Nov 30, 4:15 pm

Rhode Island set to open 2 field hospitals for COVID-19 patients

Rhode Island is set to open two field hospitals for non-critically ill COVID-19 patients, to lessen strain on existing hospitals.

Meanwhile, the state kicked off its two-week pause program Monday, including sending public safety alerts to residents' phones, warning that hospitals are at capacity and advising the public to stay home as much as possible over the next two weeks.

ABC News' Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.

Nov 30, 1:44 pm
Florida schools, businesses to remain open as state's outbreak worsens: Governor

Schools in Florida will remain open for in-person learning next spring, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Monday press conference in which he referred to school closings as the largest public health blunder in American history.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising in Florida, according to an ABC News analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project. Despite the worsening statistics, DeSantis said he will not close businesses or issue a statewide mask mandate, nor will he permit local governments to fine residents for failing to wear masks in public.

ABC News' Scott Withers contributed to this report.

Nov 30, 12:44 pm
Vaccines could be 'into people's arms before Christmas' if proven safe: HHS secretary

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Monday that if safety and efficacy bear out, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could approve Pfizer's vaccine within days of an independent FDA advisory committee meeting on Dec. 10.

"We could be seeing both of these vaccines out and getting into people's arms before Christmas," Azar told CBS.

Moderna announced Monday that it would seek emergency FDA authorization for its vaccine, making it the second U.S. company to do so. Moderna's FDA hearing will be held Dec. 17.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Nov 30, 10:40 am
Rhode Island bucks national trend by opening schools, closing bars

Rhode Island entered a two-week pause Monday, shuttering bars, gyms, movie theaters, bowling allies and indoor sporting facilities. But unlike in many other states, schools will remain open.

"We've really got to shut it down for those two weeks," Gov. Gina Raimondo said at a Nov. 19 press conference. "Because if we do, we can slowly crank up after those two weeks and make it through the end of the year."

The tightened restrictions are in response to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state, which has reported 53,954 infections and 1,346 deaths to date.

Rhode Island's pause will remain in effect until Dec. 13.

Nov 30, 8:58 am
TSA screens record number of travelers since March

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it screened 1,176,091 people at its checkpoints in airports across the United States on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, making it the busiest day for air travel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous pandemic record was set on Wednesday, the day before the holiday, when TSA screened 1,070,967 individuals at airport security checkpoints.

By comparison, 2,882,915 travelers were screened on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year, which remains the highest volume in TSA history.

Earlier this month, 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."

Nov 30, 8:20 am
Study shows COVID-19 infections dropped about 30% in England during second lockdown

New research suggests England has seen roughly a 30% drop in COVID-19 infections three weeks into its second nationwide lockdown.

The Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) program, run by Imperial College London and research firm Ipsos MORI, is tracking current cases of COVID-19 in England by testing more than 150,000 randomly-selected people each month over a two-week period. An interim report released Monday from the latest round of testing, which includes results from more than 105,000 at-home tests between Nov. 13 and Nov. 24, shows that an estimated 0.96% of England's population -- or around one in 100 people -- is infected with COVID-19.

The study, which is commissioned by England's Department of Health and Social Care, also found that the overall reproduction (R) number has fallen to below 1 -- estimated at 0.88 -- meaning the country's outbreak is currently shrinking rather than growing.

"In this interim report from the seventh round of data collection, we found a reduction in national prevalence of infection by around 30% from the high levels in the latter half of round 6 (26 October to 2 November 2020)," the study's co-authors wrote in the report. "The national prevalence has now dropped to ~1%, a level last seen 6 weeks earlier. This fall in prevalence covers a period of nearly three of the four weeks of the second national lockdown, and is consistent with an observed reduction in the number of daily swab-positive cases recorded in routine surveillance data."

Paul Elliott, professor of epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial College London and director of the REACT program, called the data "encouraging" for England, which was under a regional tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions before entering lockdown again on Nov. 5. A tougher three-tier system will come into force when the lockdown ends just after midnight on Wednesday.

"We're seeing a fall in infections at the national level and in particular across regions that were previously worst affected. These trends suggest that the tiered approach helped to curb infections in these areas and that lockdown has added to this effect," Elliott said in a statement Monday. "As we approach a challenging time of year, it’s even more vital that through our actions and behaviors we all play our part in helping to keep the virus at bay."

Nov 30, 7:00 am
Moderna to submit emergency authorization request to FDA

Moderna announced it plans to submit a request on Monday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the second company after Pfizer to do so.

Moderna said in a press release that the FDA's meeting to review the safety and efficacy data for its National Institutes of Health-funded vaccine candidate, called mRNA-1273, will likely be scheduled for Dec. 17. The FDA hearing for the vaccine candidate developed by New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is slated for Dec. 10.

Moderna also announced that the final analysis of its Phase 3 clinical trial of mRNA-1273 indicates a vaccine efficacy of 94.1%. Pending FDA authorization, Moderna said it expects to have approximately 20 million doses of mRNA-1273 available in the United States by the end of the year. The Massachusetts-based biotechnology company remains on track to manufacture 500 million to one billion doses globally in 2021.

"This positive primary analysis confirms the ability of our vaccine to prevent COVID-19 disease with 94.1% efficacy and importantly, the ability to prevent severe COVID-19 disease," Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement Monday. "We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death."

Nov 30, 5:48 am
US reports over 138,000 new cases

There were 138,903 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 27th straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Sunday's count is down from a peak of 205,557 new cases on Friday.

An additional 826 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Sunday, less than the all-time high of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

COVID-19 data may be skewed in the coming days and weeks due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.

A total of 13,384,651 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 266,875 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 over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.

Nov 30, 4:55 am
Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients hit all-time high in US

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the United States reached an all-time high of 93,238 on Sunday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The figure surpassed Saturday's record of 91,635 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized. Current COVID-19 hospitalizations have gone up every day since Oct. 25, except for Sunday when the figure dipped slightly to 89,834, which The COVID Tracking Project credited to "the holiday effect."

Our daily update is published. Our testing, case, and death statistics continue to be affected by the Thanksgiving holiday. Hospitalizations are less affected by the data slowdown and are at the record-high level of 93,238.

— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) November 30, 2020

The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort launched from The Atlantic magazine to track the U.S. outbreak, has warned of data inconsistencies in the coming days and weeks due to lags over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday. For instance, some states didn't report any data at all on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, while others only had partial reports. The totals for testing and new cases were inflated Saturday and Sunday as several states reported two days' worth of data.

"The data wobbles don't consist only of some states not reporting at all -- though that's happened a lot -- but that most or all states that are reporting do not have a full data pipeline from labs and health departments," The COVID Tracking Project wrote on its Twitter account Sunday.

However, the group noted that hospitalization numbers "are less affected by the data slowdown."

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(NEW YORK) — The monolith that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere in the Utah desert was removed from its location in the middle of the night over the weekend while a similar structure showed up in Europe, according to officials and witnesses.

However, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reassured the public that whoever took the 10- to 12-foot vertical metal structure was not from out of this world.

The agency said agents discovered Saturday that the structure was gone from its location in the southeastern Utah desert. Desert rocks marked the spot where the silver-colored object once stood.

BLM officials said "an unknown party or parties" removed the monolith sometime after Friday evening.

"The BLM did not remove the structure which is considered private property. We do not investigate crimes involving private property," the agency said in a Facebook post Saturday night.

While the monolith no longer has a footprint in the U.S., a similar structure appeared out of nowhere in Romania over the weekend. Onlookers spotted a similar metal structure in the eastern Romanian city of Piatra Neamț and they shared videos and photos of the structure on social media.

No one has officially claimed responsibility for setting up either of these structures as of Monday evening.

Lt. John Young, the sheriff of San Juan County, Utah, told "Good Morning America" the monolith's appearance and disappearance are difficult to investigate.

"It is a little surprising that it lasted as long as it did. I think it's a little more surprising that it disappeared in the middle of the night," he said.

On Nov. 18, crews from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources discovered the structure while they were doing a helicopter survey of sheep in the area. The discovery sparked questions, jokes and speculation about the structure's origins as it evoked sci-fi imagery such as the monolith in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Although officials didn't disclose the exact location of the monolith, interested hikers took to the desert to see the object in person and shared their experiences on social media. David Surber, a hiker, told "Good Morning America" it was remarkable to see the structure in person before it was removed.

"It was really nice to have 10 minutes of peace with what I would like to call a landmark at the time," Surber said.

BLM officials, however, warned that the desert is public land and any development on public lands must be approved by the agency. They also reiterated that visiting the site where the monolith stood is prohibited, as there are no restrooms or cellphone service and only high-clearance vehicles are allowed.

Some visitors looking to see the monolith parked on vegetation and "left behind human waste as evidence of their visit," according to the BLM.

"Many people have been enjoying the mystery and view it as a welcome distraction from the 2020 news cycle," BLM Monticello Field Manager Amber Denton Johnson said in a statement. "Even so, it was installed without authorization on public lands, and the site is in a remote area without services for the large number of people who now want to see it."

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News Bulletin for Tues., Dec. 1, 2020

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