COVID Live Updates: California asking millions to stay home

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- California authorities sent a cellphone text alert Tuesday to two major regions to tell millions of people that the novel coronavirus is spreading rapidly and asking them to stay home except for essential activities.

The noon blast to the state-designated 11-county Southern California region and 12-county San Joaquin Valley region was sent by the Office of Emergency Services. The text also urged people to wear masks and physically distance.

Both regions came under increased restrictions this week after the capacity of hospital intensive care units dropped below 15%. The restrictions will remain in effect for at least three weeks.

The regions will be eligible to emerge from the order on Dec. 28 if ICU capacity projections for the following month are above or equal to 15%, the OES said.

That as the country topped a million cases in the first five days of December. Doctors across this country are losing 90 Americans to the virus every hour.

What to know about coronavirus:
Where to get tested in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
Coronavirus by zip code - New York City
How coronavirus changed the New York region
Do you have coronavirus symptoms?

Here are more of today's headlines:



Gov. Cuomo to switch to virtual press briefings due to COVID, says senior advisor
Due to COVID concerns, Governor Andrew Cuomo will switch his in-person press briefings to a virtual format. Cuomo's senior advisor Rich Azzopardi released a statement Tuesday with the announcement. In it he says, "Given the new stricter CDC guidelines released Friday and the reality of rising cases in New York, going remote is now the most prudent action."

Christmas trees offer bright spot amid COVID pandemic
Holidays may be different in 2020, but people are still turning to Christmas trees for some holiday spirit.

Positivity rate rising on Long Island
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced a daily positivity rate of 5.8%, the highest she says they have seen in months. The seven-day average is 5.2%, with over 104,000 tests conducted over the past week. Nassau's hospitals are reporting 343 COVID-19 patients, 50 in ICU and 34 intubated. There have been 16 new COVID-19 fatalities in the past 7 days. In Suffolk County, positivity rate is higher at 6.5%.

"We continue to see daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths increase to levels we have not seen since the spring," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "While we may all be tired, it is abundantly clear that this virus is not. Everything we do now and over the next few weeks is about saving lives and preventing our hospital system from being overwhelmed. We all have a part to play, and together we can once again accomplish the impossible."

Will there be enough COVID vaccines in the US?
With cases of COVID surging across the country, we are learning millions of Americans may now have to wait months longer to receive a vaccine because the u-s opted to get fewer doses from Pfizer than it could have.

The U.S. bought enough to vaccinate 50 million Americans. By contrast, the European Union bought enough for 100 million people. Now, ABC News confirms the New York Times report that over the summer, Pfizer offered to sell the U.S. government additional doses, but the Trump administration turned them down. Other countries did buy in. Now, Pfizer says it might not be able to get the U.S. more doses until June of 2021.

The White House denies the report. Officials with Operation Warp Speed also told ABC that they will have enough doses for every American who wants to be immunized.

Biden calls for action on COVID-19 pandemic as he introduces health team
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday called for urgent action on the coronavirus pandemic as he introduced a health care team that will be tested at every turn while striving to restore a sense of normalcy to the daily lives of Americans.

Biden laid out three COVID-19 priorities for his first 100 days in office: a call for all Americans to mask up, a commitment to administer 100 million vaccines and a pledge to try to reopen a majority of the nation's schools.

NYC Parks selling holiday merchandise to help you social distance
NYC Parks is selling special merchandise for the holidays -- including a couple items that will help you social distance through the pandemic.

The merchandise is now available at the NYC Parks Store at the Arsenal in Central Park every Tuesday - Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Among the items for sale is a Social Distancing Towel that is more than 6 feet long. It sells for $28.50.

Michigan's COVID-19 outbreak cancels game against Ohio State
Michigan canceled its annual rivalry game at Ohio State on Tuesday because of the COVID-19 outbreak within the Wolverines football program.

"The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said. "We have not been cleared to participate in practice at this time. Unfortunately, we will not be able to field a team due to COVID-19 positives and the associated quarantining required of close contact individuals. This decision is disappointing for our team and coaches but their health and safety is paramount, and it will always come first in our decision-making."

Public advocate criticizes Cuomo's COVID response
As a second possible indoor dining shutdown looms in New York City, one city official is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to speed up the process.

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams Williams criticized Cuomo's "slow and hesitant approach" that he says is reminiscent of mistakes the state and city made in March.

In a letter, Williams asked Cuomo to implement new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting vulnerable communities -- to avoid the mistakes and the loss of life seen in the spring.

Cases rise in New Jersey
Gov. Phil Murphy announced 5,820 new positive cases on Tuesday, bringing the statewide cumulative cases to 377,055.

Murphy said 90 more deaths were reported in the state, for a total of 15,590.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safe, effective, studies suggest
New results on a possible COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca suggest it is safe and about 70% effective, but questions remain about how well it may help protect those over 55 - a key concern for a vaccine that health officials hope to rely on around the world because of its low cost, availability and ease of use.

Still, experts say the vaccine seems likely to be approved, despite some confusion in the results and lower levels of protection than what other vaccine candidates have shown.

Researchers study safest way to drive without spreading COVID-19
New research looks at the safest way to drive to eliminate the spread of COVID-19 while inside a car.

Scientists in Massachusetts studied the airflow inside vehicles, with findings that could help those who use rideshare. Researchers found that when the heat was on and the windows were up, there was a high risk for transmission of the virus, even when the passenger and driver weren't sitting side-by-side.

Fear and dread in New York City as 2nd possible indoor dining shutdown looms
Makeshift outdoor dining structures that have gone up all over New York City are evidence that restaurants are doing whatever they can to survive. But if they are forced to completely shut down indoor dining again, many aren't sure they will be able to survive the winter.

And that is exactly the situation now: we could be just days away from indoor dining shutting down for the second time in New York City as hospitalization rates rise.

US regulators post positive review of Pfizer vaccine data
Documents released by U.S. regulators Tuesday confirmed that Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine was strongly protective against COVID-19 -- offering the world's first detailed look at the evidence behind the shots.

The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis online even as across the Atlantic, Britain on Tuesday began vaccinating its oldest citizens with the Pfizer-BioNTech shots.

But the U.S. judges experimental vaccines in a unique way: On Thursday, the FDA will convene what's essentially a science court that will debate -- in public and live-streamed -- just how strong the data backing the shots really is.
Report: 10,000 restaurants expected to close in the next 3 weeks because of COVID-19
About 17% of America's restaurants have already permanently closed this year, with thousands more on the brink according to a new report.

The National Restaurant Association is publicly pleading with Congress to pass new stimulus to help the industry that has been damaged by the pandemic. The group said Monday that 10,000 restaurants could close in the next three weeks, in addition to the 110,000 that have already shuttered in 2020.

The US sees its deadliest COVID-19 week since April
The US is nearing 15 million total reported COVID-19 infections, and daily deaths are near a record level -- underscoring that the nation is mired in an increasingly difficult phase of the pandemic even with expected vaccines so close.

The country has averaged about 2,237 daily coronavirus deaths across a week -- just below its highest-ever average of 2,241, set on April 24, Johns Hopkins University data show.

CVS Pharmacy hiring thousands to help with COVID-19 vaccinations
There's some relief on the way for some of those who are looking for work. CVS Pharmacy is hiring - as it prepares to give you and your family COVID-19 vaccinations.

The pharmacy chain is bringing on thousands of extra nurses, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians in an effort to vaccinate millions of people next year - when vaccines are widely available.

UK giving 1st doses of COVID-19 vaccine; 90-year-old woman 1st recipient
U.K. health authorities rolled out the first doses of a widely tested and independently reviewed COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, starting a global immunization program that is expected to gain momentum as more serums win approval.

The first shot came at one of a network of hospital hubs around the country where the initial phase of the program will be rolled out on what has been dubbed "V-Day."

The first recipient was Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week. The former jewelry shop assistant received the shot at University Hospital Coventry at 6:31 a.m. while wearing a surgical mask and a blue Merry Christmas T-shirt decorated with a cartoon penguin wearing a Santa hat and red scarf.

Can companies force employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine?
The race to a COVID-19 vaccine is both part solution and potential dilemma for those opposed to immunizations because according to the law, employers can require it. "Unless you have a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, the employer can force you to take it," says Rogge Dunn, a Dallas labor and employment attorney. "And if you don't take it, they can fire you." Dunn told station KTVT in Dallas that the law is clear, and yet acknowledges that the controversy surrounding vaccinations will create a challenge for employers.

Know your NYC COVID Zone
You can find your COVID zone at NYC.gov/covidzone.


MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE


Do you have coronavirus symptoms?
Where to get tested for COVID-19 coronavirus
New CDC guidelines on masks
How coronavirus changed the New York region

UPDATES
New York City
New Jersey
Long Island
Westchester and Hudson Valley
Connecticut
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus



Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.