Coronavirus updates: Global airline body developing COVID-19 ‘Travel Pass’

By MORGAN WINSOR and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 59.2 million people and killed over 1.3 million worldwide.Here’s how the news developed Tuesday. All times Eastern:

Nov 24, 10:47 pmCOVID-19 deaths in US up 27% week-over-week: HHS memoThere were 10,784 deaths recorded from Nov. 17 to 23, marking a 26.9% increase in new deaths compared with the previous week, according to an internal Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News Tuesday night.New cases increased 12.2% during that time, and the national test-positivity rate dropped to 10.3% from 10.8%, the memo said.Across the country, 27% of hospitals have more than 80% of their intensive care unit beds filled.Maine, Pennsylvania and Texas saw unprecedented increases in COVID-19 cases, and hospitalizations in Pennsylvania surpassed their April peak, the memo noted.Nov 24, 8:15 pmHospitalizations hit record high for 15th consecutive dayThe number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 set a new record for the 15th consecutive day on Tuesday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.There were 88,080 people currently hospitalized, based on the tracker. The record-setting run began on Nov. 10 with 62,062 hospitalizations.Hospitalizations are increasing “at an extremely fast rate” in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the tracker said.The U.S. also saw more than 2,000 new COVID-19 deaths for the first time since early May, COVID Tracking Project data shows, with states reporting 2,028 fatalities on Tuesday.Nov 24, 8:14 pmMinnesota pauses football program, cancels Wisconsin game dueThe University of Minnesota has paused its football program and canceled Saturday’s game against Wisconsin due to a “sudden increase” in COVID-19 cases, officials said.Nine student-athletes and six staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last five days, officials said Tuesday. The program is also awaiting confirmation of additional presumptive positive tests.The numbers marked a “sudden increase in positive cases,” Dr. Brad Nelson, the department’s medical director, said in a statement. The pause “will allow the team to focus on stopping the spread of the virus,” he said.The cancellation marks the first time Minnesota and Wisconsin won’t play in 113 consecutive years, ending the longest uninterrupted series in Football Bowl Subdivision history, according to ESPN.Saturday’s game at Wisconsin will not be rescheduled, per Big Ten policy, and will be ruled a no contest.Minnesota officials said they hope to be healthy enough to play Northwestern on Dec. 5.

Nov 24, 6:36 pmWhite House testing czar warns of false sense of security with negative COVID testWith holiday travel approaching, a top White House coronavirus official warned against a false sense of security that a negative COVID-19 test might provide.”Please remember that a negative test today does not mean you will be negative tomorrow or in a few days afterwards,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “We know that a single test can provide false senses of security. You still have to wear your mask and everything else.””If you’re negative today, you could be positive by Thanksgiving or Friday,” he continued. “You can get it while you’re traveling on vacation.”Giroir confirmed that the Trump administration is considering shortening the recommended coronavirus quarantine time from 14 days to 10 days, complemented by a negative test administered on day seven or 10 — as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. They are “right now reviewing the evidence,” he said.Demand for testing ahead of the holiday continues to strain the diagnostics system, prompting recurrent warnings from major labs that turnaround times may be delayed. Testing could become even further strapped if a shortened quarantine would require a negative test. When asked if the system has the ability to handle such widespread asymptomatic screening, Giroir said he was “certainly cognizant” of the turnaround times and was doing “everything possible to increase those supplies.””Asymptomatic testing is very important, but we need to do that on targeted populations,” he said. “We’re not at the point that sort of every American can test themselves every day, without a reason to do that. We are trying to build that infrastructure.” ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik contributed to this reportNov 24, 4:59 pmCalifornia ‘in the midst of a surge,’ health secretary saysCalifornia is “in the midst of a surge,” as the COVID-19 test positivity rate has increased 51% in two weeks, state Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.”These numbers are really going up and going up quickly,” Ghaly said during a press briefing Tuesday. The state reported 15,329 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The 14-day positivity rate is 5.6%.COVID-19 hospitalizations have gone up 81.3% over the last 14 days, and intensive care unit hospitalizations increased 57.1% during that period. There are currently 5,844 hospitalizations and 1,397 ICU hospitalizations in the state.  Ghaly warned that 12% of today’s cases end up hospitalized about two to three weeks later, and that ICU units in parts of the state are already being pressed.Four more counties also moved to California’s most restrictive reopening tier on Tuesday, bringing the total number of “purple” counties to 45 — nearly 95% of the state’s population. No counties are left in the yellow tier, the least restrictive of the four.ABC News’ Bonnie Mclean contributed to this reportNov 24, 4:38 pmCOVID-19 deaths rates increased worldwide in past week: WHOCOVID-19 fatality rates continue to increase globally, with more than 67,000 new deaths reported in the week ending Nov. 22, according to the World Health Organization.That continues an upward trend since mid-October, according to the WHO’s weekly global epidemiological situation report. The European region is the largest global contributor of new cases and fatalities, with Italy reporting the highest number of new cases in the region and the third-highest globally. Cases have decreased 6% in Europe, “a sign that the re-introduction of stricter public health and social measures … is beginning to slow transmission,” the report said.The U.S. reported a 14% increase in cases and a 23% increase in deaths, according to the report. Fatalities nearly doubled over previous weeks in Puerto Rico.The African region reported the highest increase in new cases (15%) and deaths (30%) this week, according to the report.   ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this reportNov 24, 4:19 pmFrance to lift COVID-19 restrictions in stages starting this weekFrance will begin lifting its COVID-19 restrictions this week, President Emmanuel Macron announced.”The peak of the second wave of the epidemic has passed,” Macron said Tuesday during an address to the nation, but warned the virus remains “very present” in France.The president outlined three stages of opening. Starting Saturday, all businesses can reopen until 9 p.m., and at-home services, such as hairdressers, can resume. Religious services up to 30 people will be permitted, and more outdoor activity will be allowed. Residents still need permission slips to leave their homes.The country’s lockdown could end by Dec. 15 if COVID-19 cases are below 5,000 per day, Macron said. At that stage, residents will no longer need permission slips to move about, including between regions, and can celebrate family holidays. Cinemas, theaters and museums will be able to reopen, and a nightly curfew will operate from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.By Jan. 20, if cases are below 5,000 per day, restaurants, bars, cafes and gyms can reopen, and the curfew will be reduced. High schools will also fully reopen for in-person learning, followed by universities 15 days later.Authorities are working to make testing more efficient, with the goal of having test results within 24 hours by Jan. 20, Macron said.The president also announced financial support for those affected by lockdowns; restaurants, bars, nightclubs and sports halls can receive 20% of their turnover for the year 2019, if it is more than the 10,000 euros, from the existing “solidarity fund.”ABC News’ Ibtissem Guenfoud contributed to this reportNov 24, 3:01 pmPfizer vaccine could be distributed ‘soon after Dec. 10,’ Azar saysPfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate could be distributed “soon after Dec. 10,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during an Operation Warp Speed briefing Tuesday.Pfizer applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration last week, and a hearing date was set for Dec. 10 to discuss the vaccine’s possible authorization.”If all goes well, we could be distributing vaccines soon after Dec. 10,” possibly within 24 hours of FDA authorization, Azar said.Elderly care facilities and health care providers will be the first to be offered the vaccine, according to U.S. officials.Officials addressed an increase in vaccine hesitancy amidst the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health leaders are working on a campaign to educate the public on the need to be vaccinated and the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, Azar said.“I will get myself vaccinated as soon as I will be allowed to be vaccinated, to demonstrate to the American people my complete confidence in the independence and integrity of the process and the quality of any vaccine that I would make available to the American people,” Azar later added.ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report

Nov 24, 12:23 pm26 US states plus DC see average number of new cases double since Nov. 1At least 26 U.S. states and the nation’s capital have seen the seven-day average of their daily COVID-19 cases double since the beginning of the month, according to an ABC News analysis of trends across the country.In addition to Washington D.C., those 26 states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.The national monthly tally of cases also continues to increase rapidly. There have been at least 20 straight days where the country as a whole has confirmed more than 100,000 new cases in a 24-hour reporting period. Over 3.1 million cases have been confirmed so far in just the month of November, which would be roughly the equivalent to a theoretical scenario where the entire state of Utah had tested positive for COVID-19 in the last three weeks.Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the United States has doubled in the past month, with 12 states reporting a record number of hospitalizations on Monday.The United States is now averaging more than 1,500 new COVID-19 fatalities every day, a rate of more than one death reported per minute. The national seven-day average of daily deaths is also now twice as high as it was just a month ago.The trends were all analyzed from data collected and published by the COVID Tracking Project over the past two weeks, using the linear regression trend line of the seven-day moving average.ABC News’ Benjamin Bell, Brian Hartman, Soorin Kim and Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.

Nov 24, 11:54 amRussia says its vaccine is over 95% effectiveRussia claims it’s COVID-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V, is more than 95% effective in preventing the disease.The Russian Ministry of Health’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology released results Tuesday from the second interim data analysis of its ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials, which showed Sputnik V had a 91.4% efficacy rate 28 days after volunteers received the first dose and seven days after they received the second one.Moreover, preliminary data obtained 42 days after the first dose — 21 days after the second dose — indicates the vaccine’s efficacy rate is more than 95%, according to a press release from the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is overseeing the vaccine’s development.The analysis was carried out among nearly 19,000 volunteers who received both the first and second doses of Sputnik V or placebo. The press release noted that some volunteers experienced short-term, minor adverse events such as pain at the injection point and flu-like symptoms, but that no unexpected adverse events were identified as part of the research and the safety of the vaccine is constantly being monitored.After being developed by the state-run Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Sputnik V was controversially registered by the health ministry in August before starting crucial Phase 3 trials, with Russia declaring itself the first in the world to register a COVID-19 vaccine. The latest results come just days after three other leading vaccine candidates from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford announced that data from their respective trials showed efficacy of up to or over 90%.Russia has offered to share related technology from Sputnik V with U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to help boost the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with England’s University of Oxford. Like the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, Sputnik V is based on a modified adenovirus, a type of virus that causes the common cold, which is adapted to produce an immune response for COVID-19. However, Russia claims its vaccine is more effective because it uses different types of modified adenovirus in the first and second doses, rather than just one. The Eastern European country has also said it will sell the drug for cheaper than the leading Western vaccines, offering it for less than $10 a dose.Russia’s vaccine effort has faced criticism for its lack of transparency and hurried approval process. International researchers raised questions about results from early trials published in peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet that contained anomalies and did not include a detailed breakdown of the data.Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly praised Sputnik V and said one of his daughters has already received it. But Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskvov, told reporters Tuesday that the vaccine has not yet been administered to the head of state because it would be inappropriate for him to participate in the trials “as a volunteer.””The president can’t use an uncertified vaccine,” Peskov said.ABC News’ Alina Lobzina and Patrick Reevell contributed to this report.Nov 24, 9:56 amUS Bureau of Prisons working with Operation Warp Speed to prioritize staff, inmates for vaccineThe U.S. Bureau of Prisons is working with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine initiative, Operation Warp Speed, to prioritize prison staff and inmates once a vaccine is approved, according to a memo obtained by ABC News.The memo said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is determining allocations but the Bureau of Prisons will be included in that initial allotment, which will first be reserved for staff. The memo noted that staff must register on the CDC’s website before receiving the vaccine, which will be administered in two doses.”The BOP Health Services Division is working with the CDC and Operation Warp Speed to ensure the BOP is prepared to receive the COVID-19 once it becomes available,” the memo said.Earlier this month, a report by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General “identified numerous failures” in how staff at a federal prison complex in south Louisiana responded to a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.The Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, Louisiana, suffered the first coronavirus-related death in the federal prison system. As of Nov. 8, the facility had 256 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and at least eight of the prison’s approximately 1,800 inmates had died from COVID-19 complications, according to the inspector general’s report.ABC News’ Luke Barr contributed to this report.

Nov 24, 9:03 amGlobal airline body developing COVID-19 ‘Travel Pass’The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced it is finalizing the development of a digital health pass that will allow travelers to store all vaccination or testing information required by airlines and governments amid COVID-19 restrictions.IATA, a Montreal-based body that represents many of the world’s major airlines, plans to test the “Travel Pass” platform later this year before launching the set of mobile apps for Android and Apple iOS smartphones in the first half of 2021.”Our main priority is to get people traveling again safely,” Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo and security, said in a statement Monday. “In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements.”The “IATA Travel Pass” incorporates four open sourced and interoperable modules: a global registry of health requirements that enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey; a global registry of testing and vaccination centers that allows passengers to find testing centers and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination; a “Lab App” that enables authorized labs and testing centers to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers; and a “Contactless Travel App” that allows passengers to create a “digital passport,” receive test and vaccination certificates while verifying that they are sufficient for their journey, and share those certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel.The “Contactless Travel App” will also link to a digital copy of the user’s passport and other travel documentation.”Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures,” IATA director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement Monday. “The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements.”

Nov 24, 6:16 amDaily virus deaths hit new high in RussiaRussia registered 491 more fatalities from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the country’s highest single-day death toll from the disease so far.An additional 24,326 cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed nationwide, down from the previous day’s peak of 25,173 newly diagnosed infections. The cumulative total now stands at 2,138,828 confirmed cases, including 37,031 deaths, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.Russia has seen a resurgence in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, with multiple back-to-back days of record-high deaths and cases. The Eastern European nation of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of confirmed cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Tuesday that a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign is expected to begin next year, according to the Interfax news agency. She noted that immunization will be voluntary.More than two million doses of Sputnik V, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Russian Ministry of Health’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, will be produced by the end of the year, Golikova said.

Nov 24, 5:45 amDeath toll from outbreak at Illinois veterans home rises to 27A COVID-19 outbreak at a veterans home in Illinois has left more than two dozen people dead, according to a report by Chicago ABC station WLS-TV.At least 27 veterans who lived at the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle, some 100 miles southwest of Chicago, have died from COVID-19, according to WLS, which cited the Illinois Department of Veterans.”That’s over 20 percent of our veterans that have passed away in the past several weeks,” state Sen. Sue Rezin told WLS.Rezin said the facility, which is in her district, continues to see an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases.”November 4th, there were only four cases of COVID within the home,” she said. “Very quickly within the past 20 days, we’ve had almost 200 cases.”The Illinois Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will meet virtually Tuesday to discuss the crises at the LaSalle facility.”We need answers and we need answers today,” Rezin said.So far, a total of 96 residents and 93 employees at the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from the facility’s administrator, Angela Mehlbrech. The veterans home has been conducting health screenings of its residents and staff, maintaining social distancing practices, wearing face coverings as well as intensifying cleaning and disinfecting protocols.An infection control team has been sent to the facility, according to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.”When there is massive, widespread community spread,” Pritzker told WLS, “there’s no way to keep it out of every facility.”Nov 24, 4:05 amUS reports over 169,000 new casesThere were 169,190 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 21st straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Monday’s count falls under the all-time high of 196,004 new cases on Nov. 20.An additional 889 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Monday, down from a peak of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.A total of 12,420,872 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 257,701 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.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.