Global coronavirus cases topped 60 million. In the U.S., California and Texas broke daily records for infections, while an outbreak is accelerating in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions, while daily cases in South Korea topped 500 for the first time since March.
A growing number of U.S. hospitals have canceled or delayed some planned medical procedures to preserve staff and beds. The death toll in the nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities topped 100,000.
The White House is considering lifting entry restrictions on non-U.S. citizens arriving from Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel extended a partial lockdown for at least three weeks as the continent’s biggest economy struggles to regain control of the virus.
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South Korea Cases Over 500, First Since March (7:55 a.m. HK)
South Korea recorded more than 500 daily Covid-19 cases for the first time in about eight months, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said.
The spread among people in their 20s and 30s is worrisome, Park said, urging citizens to cancel get-togethers and appointments until the situation improves.
U.S. Considers Lifting European Entry Rules (5:26 p.m. NY)
Several federal agencies have recommended that the White House lift an entry ban on non-U.S. citizens arriving from Europe put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19.
The organizations, which participate in the White House Coronavirus Task Force, have signed off on lifting the restrictions, said two people who were briefed on the discussions. The rules were imposed by the Homeland Security Department after a presidential proclamation on March 11. It applied to 28 European nations and was expanded to Brazil on May 25.
It’s unclear whether White House officials, including President Donald Trump, will go along with lifting the ban or what the timing of a decision will be, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue.
Texas Cases Break Daily Record (5:15 p.m. NY)
Texas reported 14,648 new infections, setting a record for the second straight day, according to figures from the Department of State Health Services.
El Paso County has the most cases in the state, at 37,114, the figures show. That far exceeds infections in the more-populous Dallas County and Harris County, home of Houston.
Biden Calls for Unity in Virus Fight (4:20 p.m. NY)
President-elect Joe Biden called on Americans to unite in the face of a “long, hard winter,” using a Thanksgiving address to the nation to grieve for those lost to the coronavirus pandemic and promise that the nation would beat it in the new year.
“We have fought a nearly yearlong battle with a virus in this nation. It’s brought us pain and loss and frustration, and it has cost so many lives — 260,000 Americans — and counting,” he said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden went on to draw an implicit contrast with President Donald Trump by calling for a different approach to combating Covid-19. “It has divided us. Angered us. And set us against one another,” he said. “I know the country has grown weary of the fight. But we need to remember we’re at war with a virus — not with each other.”
Germany Extends Curbs at Least Three Weeks (4 p.m. NY)
Chancellor Angela Merkel extended a partial lockdown for at least three weeks, to just before Christmas.
Europe’s largest economy tightened limits on private gatherings but kept schools and most businesses operating under a deal hashed out Wednesday by Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states. The restrictions — slated to expire at the end of November — will run until Dec. 20 and will likely be extended into January unless there’s an unexpectedly rapid decline in contagion rates.
With infection rates surging, German officials this month ordered the closing of restaurants, gyms and cinemas. Nations like France and Britain imposed tougher restrictions, and with outbreaks there easing, officials are cautiously moving to loosen curbs ahead of the Christmas holidays.
California Shatters Daily Record (2:40 p.m. NY)
California reported 18,350 new virus cases, shattering the daily record set last weekend. The 14-day average rate of positive tests climbed to 5.9%, a three-month high and up 2 percentage points in just two weeks.
The most populous state is grappling with a virus resurgence spreading faster than at any point in the pandemic. Hospitalizations spiked 5.8% Tuesday to a total of 7,049, according to the state health department, and have more than doubled since the start of the month. Health Secretary Mark Ghaly warned Tuesday that hospitalizations and deaths, which trail infections by two to three weeks, are poised to surge further as cases accelerate.
N.J. Changes Quarantine Policy (1:55 p.m. NY)
New Jersey has stopped advising 14-day quarantines of visitors and residents returning from U.S. hot spots. The policy, started in June and put into effect by New York and Connecticut as well, relied on voluntary compliance. But as cases and positivity grew, all save for a few states landed on the list. By mid-October, New Jersey, amid its second wave, achieved the three states’ definition of a hot spot.
Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement that New Jersey no longer will use “previously outlined metrics to inform its travel advisory.” The state continues to discourage non-essential travel and intends to issue a new policy, he said.
New York on Nov. 4 started allowing people to test and isolate for just three days. Connecticut on Tuesday listed 48 states and territories still subject to the quarantine rule.
France’s Pace of Cases Falls to 6-Week Low (1:50 p.m. NY)
France registered 16,282 new Covid cases Wednesday, health authorities reported. The seven-day average of infections, which smooths out swings in cases over the course of a week, fell to 14,994, the lowest since Oct. 9. The share of positive tests fell to 13%, compared with close to 21% at the start of November. Both hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive-care units continued to fall from the second wave’s peak Nov. 16. Deaths linked to the virus rose by 381 to 50,618.
The report follows President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement Tuesday that France will start relaxing its lockdown measures on Saturday, and lift most of them in mid-December if numbers for cases and ICU patients continue to improve.
Turkey Changes Reporting Method After Outcry (1:10 p.m. NY)
Turkey changed its reporting method for Covid-19 cases after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca came under increasing criticism for not fully disclosing the number of people who test positive for the virus, much like the rest of the world does.
Turkey reported 28,351 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, Koca said in televised press conference. The total death from the virus rose by 168 to 12,840.
Turkey’s opposition parties and medical associations have been criticizing the minister for portraying a rosy outlook and the government for prioritizing economic gains over lives. The change also came after the surge in new symptomatic “patients” more than doubled this week compared with the previous one, to a p
ace not seen since the early stages of the pandemic in Turkey.
N.Y. Sees Most New Cases Since April (11:45 a.m. NY)
New York state had 6,265 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the highest since April 24, according to a briefing from Governor Andrew Cuomo. The overall positive testing rate was 3.62%.
In New York City, hospitalizations are on the upswing. Daily admissions for Covid-like symptoms totaled 141 on Nov. 23, the highest in weeks. Of those, 45% tested positive for coronavirus. The seven-day average of total hospitalizations is 647, up 38% from a weekly average of 469 over the last four weeks.
Covid-19 “is bearing down on us, more every day,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press briefing Wednesday.
State data show total hospitalizations for New York City at 931 on Nov. 22, more than double the number on Nov. 1. At the height of the outbreak in April, more than 12,000 were hospitalized for Covid.
U.S. Surpasses 100,000 Nursing Home Deaths (10 a.m. NY)
Covid-19 has killed more than 100,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the U.S., according to a report Wednesday from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on health issues.
The U.S. passed the grim milestone Tuesday, based on reports from across the country, the foundation said. Deaths in long-term care facilities have accounted for 40% of all Covid-19 deaths nationwide, according to the report.
— With assistance by Kara Wetzel, and Jeffrey Bair
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