COVID Live Updates: States plead for more federal help as coronavirus pandemic worsens

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
COVID cases rise across country, governors tighten restrictions
Kenneth Moton has more on the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- With more shutdowns looming and a vaccine months away from wide distribution, governors across the U.S. are pleading for more help from Washington ahead of what is shaping up to be a bleak winter.

Renewed restrictions on indoor businesses, the coming end of unemployment benefits for millions of Americans and overloaded hospitals have led governors to paint a dire picture of the months ahead unless the federal government steps in with more money and leadership to help them shore up their damaged budgets and beat back the resurgence of the coronavirus.

Between now and June 2022, state and local governments could be facing a shortfall or $400 billion or more by some estimates.

Casey Katims, federal liaison for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, said there is a "dire and urgent need for congressional action to support workers and families." He said the state is facing a significant budget shortfall because of the pandemic and can't wait until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in Jan. 20.

What to know about coronavirus:

Coronavirus by zip code - New York City

How coronavirus changed the New York region

Do you have coronavirus symptoms?

NYC COVID-19 positivity rate tracker

Here are more of today's headlines:

FDA authorizes first at-home, rapid COVID test

FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for the first at-home rapid test for COVID-19. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is authorized for use at home or point of care in a doctor's office but only with a prescription. FDA says the molecular test "works by swirling the self-collected sample swab in a vial that is then placed in the test unit. In 30 minutes or less, the results can be read directly from the test unit's light-up display that shows whether a person is positive or negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus."

Regional mask force

Transit agencies in the area are teaming up to encourage riders to wear face coverings. The MTA is partnering with the Port Authority, NJ Transit, Amtrak and SEPTA in the joint effort.

The agencies are forming a regional "mask force" to get more mask compliance and to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading to riders and workers.

Pandemic's impact on cats in New York

People involved in the trap, neuter, release (TNR) of cats on Long Island are warning about the exploding number of feral cats due to the suspension of towns' TNR programs last spring.

Eyewitness News found that the majority of towns on Long Island suspended their TNR programs last spring because of the coronavirus. In most towns, the number of cats spayed or neutered from January 2020 to October 2020 is significantly less than in 2019.

GOP senator tests positive

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is 87 years old, tweeted that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, after saying earlier he would self isolate after a possible exposure.

"I've tested positive for coronavirus," Grassley wrote. "I'll (be) following my doctors' orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine. I'm feeling good + will keep up on my work for the ppl of Iowa from home. I appreciate everyone's well wishes + prayers &look fwd to resuming my normal schedule soon."

New York state hits over 2,000 hospitalized for COVID

Gov. Cuomo said that New York state has hit more than 2,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19, which is the highest since June. The statewide positivity rate is 3.18% while the rate in all focus zones is 4.89%.

"The number of cases across the country and in New York are only continuing to climb. Despite our success in managing the spread, New York is not immune to this national surge of COVID," Governor Cuomo said. "Our micro-cluster strategy and testing capacity will help us through this new season, but ensuring we don't go back to where we were in the spring is going to depend on our behavior. We all have a part to play - wear a mask, stay socially distant, avoid gatherings large and small, and wash your hands religiously. Our actions today determine our rate of positive cases tomorrow - it's that simple. We can manage this phase the same way we did before: by holding each other to account and staying New York Tough."

Potential exposure at Friendly's in Riverhead

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services is advising anyone who visited Friendly's Restaurant, located at 949 Old Country Road, Riverhead, NY 11901, on November 5 or 6 that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Another state added to NJ, CT travel advisory list

Vermont has been added to the travel advisory list for New Jersey and Connecticut, bringing the total to 46 states and territories. Individuals from the locations on the list must quarantine for 14 days. In New York, visitors from out of state can test out of the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

NJMVC site shut down

A New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission location has been closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19. The Lakewood Vehicle Center will reopen Saturday, November 28.

NYC funeral home shut down for violations

A funeral home in Brooklyn has been shut down months after bodies were found decomposing in a truck outside the facility. Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services was shuttered for "egregious violations" at the height of the pandemic.

NY Giants player tests positive

The New York Giants learned Tuesday night that a player tested positive, triggering NFL's coronavirus protocols. ESPN reports the player is kicker Graham Gano. The player was immediately self-isolated and two close contacts, both staff members, were identified and told to remain home. Staff members were told not to report to the Quest Diagnositics Training Center in East Rutherford Tuesday. The team is on a bye week. Players were scheduled to be in for work on the field and in meetings Tuesday and Wednesday before getting the rest of the week off following Sunday's win. There will be no on-field work Tuesday, and meetings will be remote.

NYC schools will remain open

New York City schools will be open on Wednesday as the city positivity rate remains below the 3% threshold, Mayor de Blasio said.

New NJ indoor gathering restrictions take effect

Indoor gatherings in New Jersey are now limited to 10 people as of Tuesday. Starting on Monday, November 23, outdoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 150 people.

NYC tourism agency projects post-COVID rebound will take until 2025

A troubling new forecast about post-pandemic tourism in New York City predicts the city won't see a full rebound until 2025. The Big Apple attracted nearly 67 million visitors last year, but NYC & Company, the city's tourism promotion agency, now projects that the bounce back won't begin until the middle of next year with a return to pre-pandemic totals in 2025.

"The New York City travel industry began 2020 in good position for another record year, with very strong performance in January, February and early March," the agency said. "The public health and safety measures put in place in mid-March to address the pandemic put practically all leisure and most business travel on hold."

'Exit testing' underway for SUNY students to go home for Thanksgiving

New York's public university system is requiring students to test negative for the coronavirus before they can leave for Thanksgiving break in hopes of preventing community spread as students fan across the country. The system's 64 colleges and universities must test about 140,000 students within 10 days before Thanksgiving break, and every student has to test negative in order to go home to their families. At SUNY Purchase, mandated exit testing is being conducted through Wednesday this week. After the break, SUNY will shift to remote learning for the rest of the fall semester.

Dolly Parton helped fund Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine research

In April, less than a month after COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic, Dolly Parton donated $1 million to coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University. More than seven months later, it's been revealed that the legendary performer's donation helped fund Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, which this week became the second coronavirus vaccine with a stunningly high success rate. Parton's name appears in the preliminary report on the vaccine among sponsors like the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Dr. Anthony Fauci heads, and Emory University. She originally donated to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in honor of her friend and Vanderbilt professor of surgery Dr. Naji Abumrad.

New Orleans cancels 2021 Mardi Gras parades

While the City of New Orleans cannot cancel Mardi Gras because it is a religious holiday, it announced it is not permitting large gatherings to celebrate. Famed Mardi Grad parades of any kind won't be allowed in 2021 because "because large gatherings have proven to be super spreader events of the COVID-19 virus," according to the city. Some Mardi Gras Krewes, social organizations that put on parades or balls for the carnival season, have modified balls to follow strict local COVID-19 guidelines. Attendance at a ball is by invitation only.

Know your NYC COVID Zone

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CDC updated Thanksgiving guidelines

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut out-of-state travelers information

New CDC guidelines on masks

New York City Positivity Tracker

How coronavirus changed the New York region

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