Coronavirus Updates: Vaccine could gain approval in December, officials say

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NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday advised against all inter-state travel due to increases in COVID-19 cases in New Jersey and the Tri-State Area.

The travel advisory update comes amid a spike in positive coronanvirus tests across most of the country, with Murphy reporting 1,182 new positives for a statewide cumulative total of 224,385.

"We're advising all New Jerseyans to avoid any unnecessary interstate travel given the recent increases in numbers both here and in neighboring states," Murphy wrote on Twitter. "Crossing state lines for work, groceries, or worship is one thing - but otherwise, stay in New Jersey.

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Here are more of today's headlines:



Debt collection scams on the rise during COVID-19 pandemic
The Federal Trade Commission reports it is already seeing an increase in debt-related complaints, either from abusive collection tactics or from scammers. If you get a call from someone saying you owe them money, but you cannot recall the debt or maybe it is something you already paid off, there are some things you can do to make sure it is not a scam. Get some basic contact information, like the debt collector's name, the company name and the mailing address and phone number of the company.

FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir to treat COVID-19
The US Food and Drug Administration approved remdesivir for the treatment of coronavirus infection, the drug's maker, Gilead Sciences, said Thursday. The drug, sold under the brand name Veklury, has been used under emergency use authorization. It is the first drug to be approved for treating Covid-19.

Santa Claus won't greet kids at Macy's flagship store
Macy's said Santa Claus won't be greeting kids at its flagship New York store this year due to the coronavirus, interrupting a holiday tradition started nearly 160 years ago. More than a quarter of a million people come to see Santa at Macy's in New York each year, the company said, making it hard to create a safe environment during a pandemic. Before taking a picture with the jolly old man, crowds walk in tight quarters through a maze-like Santaland that's filled with Christmas trees, running toy trains and elves in green costumes. Santa also won't be showing up at its Chicago and San Francisco stores, which have similar Santalands. But he will still appear at the end of the televised Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, the company said.

Long Island's oldest movie theater previews safety measures ahead of reopening
Moviegoers will find new safety measures in place in Long Island's oldest movie theater, one day before it reopens to the public. The Bellmore Movies and Showplace on Pettit Avenue in Bellmore will reopen for business Friday. It has installed a new air filtration system and placed hand sanitizer dispensers in several places. Social distancing guides are visible, and seating has been blocked off to help people stay 6 feet apart. Temperature checks will also be conducted with touchless thermometers.

NJ Gov. Murphy to stay isolated pending multiple tests after staffers positive for COVID
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will continue to be tested and remain isolated at home after revelations that two of his staffers tested positive for COVID-19. Murphy told 1010 Wins Thursday morning that he will be tested on Saturday and again on Monday "before I start seeing people again." Until then, he's "all virtual, quarantining at home." Murphy said was at a beer garden in Hoboken with his wife and a half dozen friends Saturday night, sitting at a table outside. He said they had contact with one of the staff members who tested positive, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intergovernmental Affairs Mike Delamater, for "at most 15 minutes." Everyone at the table has gotten tested, with zero positive tests to the best of his knowledge, he said.

Hot spot restrictions lift in some parts of New York City
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced changes to New York's coronavirus red zones Wednesday, allowing for some restaurants to begin offering indoor dining again on Thursday. Cuomo said the positivity rate is dropping in some areas, enabling the state to lift some restrictions in certain areas. In Brooklyn, the red zones remained, but there were movements within the orange zone. Red and orange zones were eliminated in Queens based on progress made over the last two weeks -- that area is now all yellow zone.

Chris Christie urges people to wear masks in new op-ed after battling COVID-19
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wrote a new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging everyone to wear masks. It read in part: "One of the worst aspects of America's divided politics is the polarization of something as practical as a mask. It's not a partisan or cultural symbol, not a sign of weakness or virtue. It's simply a good method-not a perfect one, but a proven one-to contain a cough or prevent the virus from getting in your mouth or nose. Wear it or you may regret it-as I did."

Just last week on ABC's "Good Morning America," Christie said he was "Not yet 100%" but that he's at a "fighting 80%" as far as his recovery from the virus goes. He spent seven days in the intensive care unit where he was given Regeneron and the Eli Lilly antibody treatment. "The doctors decided because I'm an asthmatic they wanted to be very aggressive in the treatment."

COVID exposure shuts down fire department in NJ
A New Jersey fire department is temporarily closed after members were exposed to COVID-19. The Washington Township Fire Department in Bergen County says it is performing contact tracing and testing for members who were exposed. The town's emergency services will continue to be covered through mutual aid departments in neighboring towns.

Texas woman dies from COVID-19 on airplane, officials say
A Dallas-area woman died due to COVID-19 while on a flight home from Las Vegas in July, a Dallas County official said. The Dallas County Health and Human Services first reported the death in the news release Sunday. The woman was in her 30s and had "underlying high risk health conditions," Dallas County said in a news release. She was reportedly on a Spirit Airlines flight July 24 when she became unresponsive, spokeswoman for Albuquerque International Sunport Stephanie Kitts told CNN.

US jobless claims drop to 787,000, but layoffs remain high amid COVID-19 pandemic
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 787,000, a sign that job losses may have eased slightly but are still running at historically high levels. With confirmed infections having neared 60,000 in the past week, the highest level since July, many consumers have been unable or reluctant to shop, travel, dine out or congregate in crowds - a trend that has led some employers to keep cutting jobs. Several states, such as Ohio and Idaho, are reporting a record number of hospitalizations from the virus.

Operation Warp Speed offers vaccine update
There is new information on the desperate work to find a COVID-19 vaccine. A top advisor to President Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed says a vaccine could be available in just a few months. Dr. Moncef Slaoui spoke during a visit to the site where a Moderna vaccine clinical trial is being held at George Washington University. He says that vaccine and Pfizer's could see FDA authorization in December. "I have to say that I'm really excited and thrilled that we are on the verge of knowing in the next few weeks whether these vaccines work," Dr. Slaoui said. Pfizer is already recruiting volunteers between the ages of 12 and 18 for trials for a potential children's vaccine that would come in the future.

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



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