COVID Live Updates: More hospitalizations than ever before, vaccine on horizon

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- More Americans are now hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before, with the number approaching 100,000 even as many experts expect the surge to continue through a dark winter.

There are currently 96,039 people hospitalized with the coronavirus, according to the COVID Tracking Project, and with hopes of a vaccine on the horizon, the CDC has begun discussing recommendations on who should get it first.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting in an open-to-the-public, virtual conference to vote on a proposal that would give priority to health care workers and patients in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The two groups together represent around 23 million Americans out of a population of about 330 million.

About 2 million people live in nursing homes and other U.S. long-term care facilities. Those patients and the staff members who care for them have accounted for 6% of the nation's coronavirus cases and a staggering 39% of the deaths, CDC officials say.

What to know about coronavirus:
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How coronavirus changed the New York region
Do you have coronavirus symptoms?

Here are more of today's headlines:



Long Island bus drivers get added protection against COVID with nasal spray
A group of Long Island bus drivers are getting an extra layer of protection with a new nasal spray designed to stop the spread of coronavirus in the user's nose and throat.

Halodine is a $25 oral and nasal anti-septic that has just launched a national campaign. Its claim is that in lab tests its ingredient, poviodone-iodine, can kill the virus that causes COVID-19 in just 15 seconds.

NJ couple welcomes 3 babies to world during coronavirus pandemic
2020 has been a lousy year for some people, but a couple in New Jersey has a lot to celebrate after welcoming three babies this year.

Holiday blockbuster movie season postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic
Thanksgiving traditionally marks the start of the holiday season, when movie studios typically make a quarter of their profits for the entire year. Not this year, however, as theaters remain closed around the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus likely in US as early as December 2019: Study
The coronavirus may have been present in the United States weeks earlier than scientists realized, according to new government research.

While COVID-19 cases were first identified in China in December, the United States did not report its first case until late January. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases Monday suggests that the virus was present in the United States as early as last December.

Santacon in Hoboken canceled
Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla and Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante confirmed that the annual "Santacon" event was officially canceled in Hoboken due to safety precautions and regulations related to the COVID-19 health crisis. Santacon, along with other "con" events have never been approved or sanctioned by the City of Hoboken.

"Our sole goal as Mayor and Police Chief is to keep Hoboken residents safe, and an unsanctioned, crowded bar crawl would have presented substantial challenges related to the pandemic," Mayor Bhalla and Chief Ferrante said. "We are glad to share that Santacon has officially been canceled by the event organizers, which will help protect Hoboken residents from a potential super-spreader type event. Thank you to the many bars and restaurants who from the very beginning, refused to participate in Santacon, as these events continue to lose steam."

NY positivity rises, new plan for hospitals in state
New York's state and city authorities are working to try to keep hospital capacity under control as the coronavirus' positivity rate rises. The positivity rate is 4.96% statewide. The positivity rate in New York City showed a spike on Tuesday from tests gathered over the Thanksgiving weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio said it's due to having a lower sample size. He said not as many people got tested due to the holiday. Nevertheless, the daily positivity was 5.72% and the 7-day positivity rate was 4.14%. Governor Cuomo outlined his winter plan in case of another surge. It includes managing hospital capacity, adding beds, and identifying retired staff who can come back to work.

COVID deaths spike as new drive-thru testing site opens in NJ
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced a spike in coronavirus deaths Tuesday, jumping from 15 Sunday to 90 Monday. This as a new drive-thru coronavirus testing site is open on a college campus in New Jersey while the number of new cases continue to surge across the state with new restrictions on the horizon. Hundreds of cars were lined up outside Bergen County Community College Tuesday, which began serving as a COVID-19 testing site operated by Bergen County and Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.

NYC launches sweepstakes to encourage blood donations for holiday season
A new campaign this holiday season is encouraging New Yorkers to give the gift of life. Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday joined the New York Blood Center (NYBC) to unveil GiveBloodNYC. Their goal is to collect 25,000 blood, plasma, and platelet donations throughout the season of giving. From Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve, officials say New Yorkers will be eligible for one of 50 prizes after they donate blood. Donors are encouraged to post photos of themselves to spread the word at donor centers and blood drive locations with the hashtag #GiveBloodNYC.

Nurses at NY hospital stage strike amid COVID-19 spike
A hospital in Westchester County is facing a nurses strike with COVID-19 cases expected to surge during the holiday season. The strike at Montefiore New Rochelle began at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Hospital management says nurses are putting the community at risk, but the nurses say the conditions at the hospital -- where they have been working without a contract for nearly two years -- are unsafe and untenable. The New York State Nurses Association, the union representing the nurses, is demanding the hospital hire more nurses and improve safe staffing requirements.

NYC health commissioner issues notice for at-risk residents, COVID cases surge
Effective immediately, the NYC Health Commissioner is advising older adults and people with underlying health conditions who are at an increased risk of severe COVID-related illness to limit activities outside the home. They are advised to stay in, only leaving home to travel to work or school, or for essential purposes including medical care, grocery shopping or pharmacy necessities. The advisory also applies to household members and caregivers of these individuals.

"I know that some people face a much greater risk for more serious illness from COVID-19," Dr. David Chokshi said. "This includes people who are older, who have a underlying health conditions. That's why today I'm issuing a Commissioners Notice that warns at-risk New Yorkers about the growth of COVID and urges appropriate precautions."

The notice comes as state and city authorities are working to try to keep hospital capacity under control as the coronavirus' positivity rate rises.

'Hamilton' could return to Broadway next summer, report says
The smash hit musical "Hamilton" could make history again by becoming the first show to return to Broadway after the pandemic. According to Page Six, the award-winning show is planning to reopen at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on the 4th of July in 2021. The publication reports Governor Cuomo is expected to give theaters the greenlight to reopen in June with limited capacity. Most shows don't expect to return until next fall, when they can fill theaters enough to make a profit.

MTA holding virtual public hearing on fare hikes amid 'doomsday' budget
The MTA will host virtual public hearings on its proposals for fare and toll policies. The newly unveiled plan includes the potential for a 2% or 4% fare hike. The MTA is also suggesting that if the base fare for a MetroCard does not increase the price of 7 and 30 day passes would. On top of that, the agency is proposing increasing the "green" fee for new MetroCards above the current $1.

Southern District of New York suspends in-person proceedings
The Southern District of New York is suspending in-person proceedings beginning Tuesday because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. The federal court covers Manhattan, the Bronx, and several other New York counties. Jury trials at the district's courthouses will be suspended. The buildings will remain open. Meanwhile, civil proceedings will continue remotely. The in-person pause will last until January 15. No new grand juries will be selected until January 19, 2021. Sitting grand juries will continue operating during this period.

LA's Union Station COVID-19 testing site to remain open despite 'She's All That' remake shoot
A popular COVID-19 testing site in downtown Los Angeles will remain open after initially deciding to close for the film shoot of a remake to the '90s romantic comedy "She's All That." Union Station had been slated to close its testing site on Tuesday because of the scheduled filming. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city worked with the testing company Curative and LA Metro transportation agency to reopen testing as scheduled.

Centrist lawmakers push $908B plan to break coronavirus stimulus impasse
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is putting pressure on congressional leaders to accept a split-the-difference solution to the months-long impasse on COVID-19 relief in a last-gasp effort to ship overdue help to a hurting nation before Congress adjourns for the holidays. The group includes Senate centrists such as Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, who hope to exert greater influence during the incoming Biden administration. The proposal hit the scales at $908 billion, including $228 billion to extend and upgrade "paycheck protection" subsidies for businesses for a second round of relief to hard-hit businesses like restaurants. It would revive a special jobless benefit, but at a reduced level of $300 per week rather than the $600 benefit enacted in March. State and local governments would receive $160 billion, and there is also money for vaccines.

Starbucks giving free coffee to frontline responders, military members in December
Starbucks is giving back to frontline workers for the important work being done in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The coffee giant is offering a free tall brewed coffee (hot or iced) to frontline responders, also characterized as "essential employees," at participating U.S. Starbucks stores in December. The promotion is in response to the recent rise in cases and hospitalizations. The company said it has given more than 2 million free cups of coffee to frontline workers this year and its foundation has donated more than $1 million in support of frontline responders since March.

Want to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree? There are changes in place this year
There are new changes in place if you want to check out the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree this holiday season. Additionally, don't expect a long visit. There's a five-minute viewing limit. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is traditionally one of the city's most popular holiday attractions that draws huge crowds. The 2020/21 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree viewing guidelines, approved by New York State and New York City, will follow social distancing and capacity control protocols. The guidelines were released on Monday morning.

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



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