Coronavirus live updates: Rhode Island bucks national trend by opening schools, closing bars

Go Nakamura/Getty ImagesBy MORGAN WINSOR and ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 62.7 million people and killed over 1.4 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

Nov 30, 1:44 pm
Florida schools, businesses to remain open as state's outbreak worsens: Governor

Schools in Florida will remain open for in-person learning next spring, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Monday press conference in which he referred to school closings as the largest public health blunder in American history.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising in Florida, according to an ABC News analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project. Despite the worsening statistics, DeSantis said he will not close businesses or issue a statewide mask mandate, nor will he permit local governments to fine residents for failing to wear masks in public.

ABC News' Scott Withers contributed to this report.

Nov 30, 12:44 pm
Vaccines could be 'into people's arms before Christmas' if proven safe: HHS secretary

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Monday that if safety and efficacy bear out, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could approve Pfizer's vaccine within days of an independent FDA advisory committee meeting on Dec. 10.

"We could be seeing both of these vaccines out and getting into people's arms before Christmas," Azar told CBS.

Moderna announced Monday that it would seek emergency FDA authorization for its vaccine, making it the second U.S. company to do so. Moderna's FDA hearing will be held Dec. 17.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Nov 30, 10:40 am
Rhode Island bucks national trend by opening schools, closing bars

Rhode Island entered a two-week pause Monday, shuttering bars, gyms, movie theaters, bowling allies and indoor sporting facilities. But unlike in many other states, schools will remain open.

"We've really got to shut it down for those two weeks," Gov. Gina Raimondo said at a Nov. 19 press conference. "Because if we do, we can slowly crank up after those two weeks and make it through the end of the year."

The tightened restrictions are in response to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state, which has reported 53,954 infections and 1,346 deaths to date.

Rhode Island's pause will remain in effect until Dec. 13.

Nov 30, 8:58 am
TSA screens record number of travelers since March

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it screened 1,176,091 people at its checkpoints in airports across the United States on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, making it the busiest day for air travel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous pandemic record was set on Wednesday, the day before the holiday, when TSA screened 1,070,967 individuals at airport security checkpoints.

By comparison, 2,882,915 travelers were screened on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year, which remains the highest volume in TSA history.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is recommending that Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving.

"It's not a requirement, it's a recommendation for the American public to consider," Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, told reporters during a call on Nov. 19. "Right now, as we're seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time."

Nov 30, 8:20 am
Study shows COVID-19 infections dropped about 30% in England during second lockdown

New research suggests England has seen roughly a 30% drop in COVID-19 infections three weeks into its second nationwide lockdown.

The Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) program, run by Imperial College London and research firm Ipsos MORI, is tracking current cases of COVID-19 in England by testing more than 150,000 randomly-selected people each month over a two-week period. An interim report released Monday from the latest round of testing, which includes results from more than 105,000 at-home tests between Nov. 13 and Nov. 24, shows that an estimated 0.96% of England's population -- or around one in 100 people -- is infected with COVID-19.

The study, which is commissioned by England's Department of Health and Social Care, also found that the overall reproduction (R) number has fallen to below 1 -- estimated at 0.88 -- meaning the country's outbreak is currently shrinking rather than growing.

"In this interim report from the seventh round of data collection, we found a reduction in national prevalence of infection by around 30% from the high levels in the latter half of round 6 (26 October to 2 November 2020)," the study's co-authors wrote in the report. "The national prevalence has now dropped to ~1%, a level last seen 6 weeks earlier. This fall in prevalence covers a period of nearly three of the four weeks of the second national lockdown, and is consistent with an observed reduction in the number of daily swab-positive cases recorded in routine surveillance data."

Paul Elliott, professor of epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial College London and director of the REACT program, called the data "encouraging" for England, which was under a regional tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions before entering lockdown again on Nov. 5. A tougher three-tier system will come into force when the lockdown ends just after midnight on Wednesday.

"We're seeing a fall in infections at the national level and in particular across regions that were previously worst affected. These trends suggest that the tiered approach helped to curb infections in these areas and that lockdown has added to this effect," Elliott said in a statement Monday. "As we approach a challenging time of year, it’s even more vital that through our actions and behaviors we all play our part in helping to keep the virus at bay."

Nov 30, 7:00 am
Moderna to submit emergency authorization request to FDA

Moderna announced it plans to submit a request on Monday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the second company after Pfizer to do so.

Moderna said in a press release that the FDA's meeting to review the safety and efficacy data for its National Institutes of Health-funded vaccine candidate, called mRNA-1273, will likely be scheduled for Dec. 17. The FDA hearing for the vaccine candidate developed by New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is slated for Dec. 10.

Moderna also announced that the final analysis of its Phase 3 clinical trial of mRNA-1273 indicates a vaccine efficacy of 94.1%. Pending FDA authorization, Moderna said it expects to have approximately 20 million doses of mRNA-1273 available in the United States by the end of the year. The Massachusetts-based biotechnology company remains on track to manufacture 500 million to one billion doses globally in 2021.

"This positive primary analysis confirms the ability of our vaccine to prevent COVID-19 disease with 94.1% efficacy and importantly, the ability to prevent severe COVID-19 disease," Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement Monday. "We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death."

Nov 30, 5:48 am
US reports over 138,000 new cases

There were 138,903 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Sunday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the 27th straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Sunday's count is down from a peak of 205,557 new cases on Friday.

An additional 826 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Sunday, less than the all-time high of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

COVID-19 data may be skewed in the coming days and weeks due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.

A total of 13,384,651 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 266,875 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 over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.

Nov 30, 4:55 am
Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients hit all-time high in US

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the United States reached an all-time high of 93,238 on Sunday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The figure surpassed Saturday's record of 91,635 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized. Current COVID-19 hospitalizations have gone up every day since Oct. 25, except for Sunday when the figure dipped slightly to 89,834, which The COVID Tracking Project credited to "the holiday effect."

Our daily update is published. Our testing, case, and death statistics continue to be affected by the Thanksgiving holiday. Hospitalizations are less affected by the data slowdown and are at the record-high level of 93,238.

— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) November 30, 2020

The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort launched from The Atlantic magazine to track the U.S. outbreak, has warned of data inconsistencies in the coming days and weeks due to lags over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday. For instance, some states didn't report any data at all on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, while others only had partial reports. The totals for testing and new cases were inflated Saturday and Sunday as several states reported two days' worth of data.

"The data wobbles don't consist only of some states not reporting at all -- though that's happened a lot -- but that most or all states that are reporting do not have a full data pipeline from labs and health departments," The COVID Tracking Project wrote on its Twitter account Sunday.

However, the group noted that hospitalization numbers "are less affected by the data slowdown."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Major storm hitting eastern US with damaging winds, heavy rain and snow


(NEW YORK) -- A major storm system moved through the South over the weekend and into the early Monday morning hours and produced a possible tornado near Tallahassee, Florida, with reports of some damage.

More than a half a foot of rain fell in eastern Texas producing flash flooding in the Houston metro area.

On Monday morning, the center of the storm system is moving through the southern Appalachian mountains and spreading heavy rain into the Mid-Atlantic with thunderstorms, damaging winds and even a tornado threat for the Southeast.

Later Monday morning and into the afternoon hours, thunderstorms could become severe with damaging winds and a threat for tornadoes from North Carolina to central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia and just east of Washington, D.C.

Further north, from New York City to Boston and New England, gusty winds 40 to 60 mph are possible along with heavy rain which could produce damage.

On the back side of this large storm system, it is turning much colder with snow and the heaviest snow will be from Ohio into western Pennsylvania and New York where locally a foot of snow is possible.

Some of the snow will work its way down to the mountains of North Carolina where more than a half a foot of snow is possible and a Winter Storm Warning has been issued from western New York to North Carolina.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Pandemic' is named as 2020's Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster

Kinga Krzeminska/Getty ImagesBy JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- In what would have been unthinkable a year ago to what seems like a fairly obvious choice now, Merriam-Webster announced on Monday that its Word of the Year is “pandemic.”

“Sometimes a single word defines an era, and it’s fitting that in this exceptional -- and exceptionally difficult -- year, a single word came immediately to the fore as we examined the data that determines what our Word of the Year will be,” Merriam-Webster said in its announcement.

According to the publishing company, the first big spike for people looking up the word “pandemic” happened on Feb. 3 -- the same day that the first COVID-19 patient was released from a Seattle hospital -- when searches for the word skyrocketed by 1,621% more compared to the same time the year before.

Searches for the word, however, according to Merriam-Webster, had actually been slowly increasing since Jan. 20 -- the same day as the first positive case of COVID-19 occurred in the U.S.

“People were clearly paying attention to the news and to early descriptions of the nature of this disease,” the publishing company said. “That initial February spike in lookups didn’t fall off -- it grew. By early March, the word was being looked up an average of 4,000% over 2019 levels. As news coverage continued, alarm among the public was rising.”

The company said that the single largest spike in searches for the word “pandemic” happened -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- on March 11 when the World Health Organization officially declared “COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

The increase on that day was 115,806% higher than on the same day in 2019.

Merriam-Webster defines “pandemic” as “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population.”

“This has been a year unlike any other and pandemic is the word that has connected the worldwide medical emergency to the political response and to our personal experience of it all,” said Merriam-Webster.

While “pandemic” may have been named the Word of the Year, there were plenty of other words that saw huge spikes in searches throughout the year that Meriam-Webster acknowledged as well.

The other words in the top 10 were coronavirus, defund, mamba -- which saw a surge after the death of Kobe Bryant -- kraken, quarantine, antebellum, schadenfreude, asymptomatic, irregardless, icon -- which spiked after the deaths of John Lewis in July and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September -- and last, but not least, malarkey.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Man clinging to capsized boat rescued by container ship off Florida coast

US Coast Guard Southeast via FacebookBy BENJAMIN STEIN and BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A 62-year-old Florida man, whose family reported him missing on Friday after he failed to return from a boating trip, was found alive on Sunday, clinging to the hull of his capsized vessel far off the coast of Florida, officials said.

The marooned mariner, Stuart Bee, was spotted Sunday by the crew of the 225-foot-container ship Angeles, holding on the hull of his boat in the Atlantic ocean about 86 miles off the coast of Port Canaveral, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials.

"It's amazing. It's 86 miles offshore," U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Veronica Dunn-Depretis told ABC News of Bee's survival, adding that he's lucky to be alive.

She said Bee was not injured and that it was not immediately clear why his 32-foot pleasure boat, named the Sting Ray, capsized.

"He is OK. We're receiving reports from the motor vessel (Angeles) that there were no medical concerns," Dunn-Depretis said.

She said when Bee was located, he was holding on to about four-feet of the boat's hull sticking out of the water.

"He was clinging to that when they came across him and they pulled him up on their vessel," Dunn-Depretis said.

Bee's ordeal began sometime after departing on Friday evening from the Port Canaveral Marina, Dunn-Depretis said. She said Bee was planning to only be out on the water for several hours.

When he failed to return, his family and officials at the Port Canaveral Marina contacted the Coast Guard.

Dunn-Depretis said a search was immediately launched and an emergency message was radioed to commercial ships far offshore to be on the lookout for Bee.

She said the Angeles was one of the vessels that began searching for Bee. She said the Angeles crew spotted Bee about 11:40 a.m. and pulled him out of harm's way.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Officials shutter NY club for hosting nearly 400-person party during pandemic

NYC Sheriff via TwitterBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Officials in New York City said they shut down an illegal club this weekend after it hosted nearly 400 people, a violation of the COVID-19 restrictions on crowd sizes.

The New York City Sheriff's Office tweeted that it found at least 393 people inside a commercial property on West 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

According to New York state's emergency coronavirus restrictions, all indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, and all "bars, restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, as well as any State Liquor Authority-licensed establishment, must close in-person service from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m."

The sheriff's office tweeted that the location had no liquor license and warehoused dozens of bottles of alcohol that were allegedly sold at the party.

It also said it issued arrest warrants for four unidentified organizers and charged them for "offenses for penal, health, [and] alcohol beverage control laws."

The party shutdown comes as New York City, which was once the epicenter of the pandemic, is seeing a new wave in cases and hospitalizations, according to health data.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said between Nov. 1 and Nov. 25, the seven-day average of new daily cases rose from 621 to 1,451, the seven-day average for daily hospitalizations rose from 46 to 106, and the citywide positivity rate increased from 1.88% to 3.49%.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has stressed the importance of following the coronavirus guidelines to bring these numbers down.

"We’re going to continue to be guided by facts and data as we fight back against #COVID19 and reopen our city," he tweeted Sunday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Houston Police Department salutes its first officer lost to COVID-19

Houston Police Department via TwitterBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(HOUSTON) -- Wearing black bands on their badges, some with tears rolling down their cheeks, hundreds of Houston police officers saluted the first member of the department to die from COVID-19 as his body was escorted from a hospital to a funeral home Sunday morning.

The somber ceremony unfolded outside the HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress hospital, where Senior Police Officer Ernest Leal Jr., 60, died on Friday after a weeks-long battle with coronavirus, according to Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Around 10 a.m., Leal's body, draped in an American flag, was wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney between two long flanks of officers saluting as he was placed in a black hearse. Police on motorcycles with lights and sirens on escorted the hearse to a nearby funeral home, followed by a procession of police vehicles and private cars.

Once at the funeral home, officers again formed two flanks and saluted Leal as his body was wheeled inside.

"We have truly lost a man who defines what it means to be a public servant," Acevedo said in a statement.

The coronavirus has killed more than 266,000 people in the United States and has infected more than 13 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Leal was the second city employee to succumb to COVID-19 this week. He said Houston Public Works employee Joel Cirilo died Wednesday.

"I ask all Houstonians to pray for the families of Officer Ernest Leal and Joel Cirilo," Sylvester said in a statement. "In their own way, they contributed to our city and made life better for all of us. I am grateful for their dedication and service to the City of Houston."

Leal was a 36-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, Acevedo said. Leal began his law enforcement career in 1984 working in the county jail before transferring in 1989 to the department's North Patrol Division, where he served until his death.

Doug Griffith, vice president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, said Leal was such a beloved figure in the community he patrolled that residents showed up outside the hospital when they heard he was sick and held signs reading, "We Love You Officer Leal."

"Everyone out there said just how much he was a go-getter," Griffith told ABC's Houston station KTRK-TV. "He would always be on the scene, you know. He is always out there to help out and lend a helping hand and serve the community. It's an honor to have known him and his lovely wife, and we just want to keep them in our prayers right now."

Acevedo said Leal is survived by his wife, Dee, and three children.

The chief said Leal was the fifth Houston police officer to die in the line of duty in the past 12 months and the first to die from COVID-19. Leal died just 16 days after Sgt. Sean Rios, 47, was gunned down after he apparently came upon a road rage incident and tried to intervene, officials said.

In October, Houston Police Sgt. Harold Preston, 65, was fatally shot while answering a domestic violence call, and in December, Sgt. Christopher Brewster, 32, was shot and killed while also responding to a domestic violence call. Officer Jason Knox, 35, was killed in May when his police helicopter crashed into a building in Houston.

At least 139 law enforcement officers nationwide have died from the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. Leal was the 39th law enforcement officer in Texas to die from the virus, the most of any state, followed by 16 in Louisiana, 13 in Alabama, 12 in Florida and 10 in New Jersey, according to the Memorial Fund.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Street art as a symbol of unity

Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty ImagesBy: ERIC MOLLO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) – We see it in cities and neighborhoods and in many places across the globe: street art. This year, it can be seen as a symbol of unity for a very divided nation.

Throughout the news cycle this summer, Americans witnessed anger across the country. There were videos of marches and protestors clashing with law enforcement. Behind those marches were pictures of people of color who lost their lives in interactions with police officers.

Those images were often in the form of street art. Murals remembered lives that were lost at the hands of law enforcement, and they popped up across America. In Minneapolis, there is a blue and gold mural of George Floyd painted on a brick wall. In Annapolis, Maryland, a 7,000 square foot picture of Breonna Taylor’s face was painted across a park. In New York, almost 2,000 miles away from Colorado, where 23-year- old Elijah McClain was killed in a police interaction last August, there is a mural of McClain playing the violin, with the words “I'm sorry” written next to him.

Vince Ballentine is a professional artist who spray painted the mural of McClain in New York. He spoke with ABC Radio for its "Celebrating the Arts" special. When he memorializes someone, Ballentine says he does not try to send one clear message:

“There's a beauty in being a bit ambiguous to the point, like the words are there and he's there and it's like, ‘Oh, OK, cool.’ But a lot of people still don't know that story. So when they look at it, they kind of have to interpret it because I have to say, ‘Well, what am I looking at?’”

Ballentine says one way to use public spaces is to raise the voices of those who are not being heard.

“People were saying, like, we really don't want to get too political. There wasn't really space for that to really resonate. But now, in the street art world, it's like sometimes people just don't care. You don't care if we get permission to do this, we're going to do it anyway.”

Sabina Andron is a lecturer in architectural history and theory at the Berkeley School of Architecture in London. Andron studies street art and murals. She tells ABC News that city walls are actually important canvases during times of unrest—they give people the opportunity to assert that their needs are not being met by public institutions intended to serve them:

“If we look at the history of all of these forms of wall marking, most of them do come from a countercultural and defiant and revolutionary aspiration. Essentially, they are ways of affirmation that people who don't have more powerful ways to affirm themselves.”

According to Andron, murals can actually function as a tool for observers to understand another person or group of people trying to send a message:

“When we encounter messages in the street… there's kind of a questioning that can happen inside us where we think, ‘OK, who is this person? What made them want to say this?’”

Andron believes the messages from street art best resonate with people when they witness them in-person. The stature of murals and street art are meant to let public institutions know, loudly, that there are people hurting in America and they want change.

“If we see something that's of a bigger scale, it impresses us through that. Street art is doing what it always does, which is it holds up a mirror. It shows us who we are.”

In this way, street art can be seen as symbol that actually expresses a desire for unity. It is not only a demand for better services, but also an invitation to communicate and better know one another.

Ballentine says he wants his work to help people build a better understanding of one another, not use it as a symbol to pit people against each other.

“They're done with such energy, and I think that translates… The one thing that I always just want to drive home, it's not black lives matter versus all lives matter. It is who is this person anyway? And that by itself does so much… it's not a command. It's a question.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Fear grips New England town after string of unprovoked street attacks

Waltham Police Department via FacebookBY: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC NEWS

(BOSTON) — One man was out for an evening stroll when someone came up behind him and bashed him in the face with a blunt object. Another victim was taking out the trash at his apartment complex when he was ambushed, and a U.S. Postal Service carrier was badly beaten while out delivering the mail after dark.

Residents of Waltham, Massachusetts, are on edge after police said at least 10 men have been targeted by a mystery assailant in a string of unprovoked assaults that have occurred since Nov. 10.

"Waltham police are using all means necessary to bring these cases to an end as quickly as possible," Detective Sgt. Steve McCarthy said in a statement.

McCarthy said the latest attack occurred around 8 p.m. on Friday when a culprit came up behind a man walking on a residential street, hit him in the face with a blunt weapon and ran off under the cover of darkness. As in the other cases, McCarthy said the person responsible for the serial assaults appears to be lying in wait and attacking victims by surprise.

On Saturday, police released surveillance video of an individual they described as "a suspect in the string of recent assaults around Waltham" and urged the public to contact them with any information on the person's identity.

The video shows a man dressed in a dark hooded coat, light blue jeans and sneakers running down a street. Police did not specify when or where the video was taken.

Investigators only have a general description of the assailant, saying he appears to be a Black male, 5-foot-6- to 5-foot-10-inches tall and 160 to 180 pounds.

Police also took the unusual step of making reverse 911 calls to alert residents of the city, cautioning them to be vigilant and remain aware of their surroundings, especially after dark.

Authorities said that in all of the "random, unprovoked" attacks, the suspect has struck between 5:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. in the city 22 miles northwest of Boston.

Initially, the assailant appeared to be targeting residents of an apartment complex but has since spread out across the community of roughly 63,000 people, attacking several recent victims in the city's downtown area, according to police.

David Cameros, one of the victims, told ABC affiliate station WCVB-TV in Boston, that he was attacked Wednesday night outside his apartment complex. He said he had just taken out his garbage and was talking on his cell phone while having a smoke when he was clobbered in the head by what he believes was a baseball bat.

Cameros said he was knocked unconscious and left with a fractured skull.

"I don't know if it is only one or there are more attackers. The aggressor always attacks from behind," Cameros said.

Another victim, who would only give his first name, Emerson, a mechanic, told WCVB he was targeted while out for an evening stroll also on Wednesday evening. Emerson remains in a hospital being treated for several fractures to his face and skull.

Emerson said the attacker came up behind him like a "coward" and that he didn't have a chance to see his face.

"I did not have the opportunity to defend myself," Emerson said Saturday, adding that he is awaiting surgery on his face.

Melissa Gallant, a friend of Emerson, said she and other residents of the city have been left rattled by the attacks.

"I know he's beat up bad, bad, bad and he's such a nice guy," Gallant told WCVB of Emerson. "It's heartbreaking. It's not right. He helps everybody. He's a very good man."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New York City public elementary schools to reopen in-person

fernandogarciaesteban/iStockBY: ALEXANDRA SVOKOS, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced elementary schools will be reopening in-person on Monday, Dec. 7, in a reversal from a previous decision.

De Blasio said Sunday testing would be done weekly and testing consent forms will be required for students to return. Additionally, District 75 schools that cater to students with disabilities will reopen beginning Thursday, Dec. 10.

The mayor added that the city would be moving to five-day in-person learning as much as possible, transitioning away from a hybrid model.

The nation's largest school district shut its doors in mid-November as novel coronavirus rates crept upward in New York City, with a positivity rate above 3% over a seven-day rolling average, a standard the city had set for when schools would close.

It was a move that frustrated many parents, teachers and students -- and even prompted questions from public health experts.

After closing the schools, de Blasio said Sunday, "We went about the work immediately of resetting the entire equation and trying to determine a path that would be sustainable regardless of the challenges we faced. We needed something sustainable that could link us up to the time we would have the vaccine widely distributed. And so we focused on increasing the health and safety measures, doubling down on the things that work, making them even more stringent and exacting.”

The new plans included the increased testing -- from monthly to weekly -- and requiring testing consent forms to return to the building.

The reopening of schools is focusing on younger grades, de Blasio said, as studies have shown that COVID-19 impacts younger children less harshly. There is no word yet on reopenings for middle and high schools.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Heavy rain ongoing on Gulf Coast as storm aims for Northeast next week

georgeclerk/iStockBY: REED MCDONOUGH, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — Heavy rain is ongoing along the northern Gulf Coast Saturday morning.

As of Friday evening, several counties reported over 2 inches of rainfall over a 24 hours period, including Polk County, Texas, that saw 3.18 inches and Wharton County, Texas, which saw 4.98 inches of rain.

The frontal boundary is expected to hover over the same area through Sunday, bringing more heavy rainfall in the already-saturated locations.

Localized flooding is expected, along with the potential for some local flash flooding as 3-6 more inches of rain is expected through the weekend in some Gulf Coast locations.

By Sunday afternoon, the system will develop a strong center of low pressure that will get picked up by a jet stream and start quickly moving to the Northeast.

The system hustles into the Northeast with a strong cold front by Monday.

Gusty winds, heavy rain and coastal inundation are expected in some areas of the Northeast and New England by Monday afternoon and evening.

Cold air will rush in on the system's backside across the Great Lakes, bringing the threat for lake effect snow Monday into Tuesday.

The system will bring up to 2 inches of rain to the Northeast, with some very localized areas receiving more.

By early Tuesday, backside snow will drop 3-5 inches in the lake effect Snowbelt region of northwest Pennsylvania and extreme western New York state.

Wind chill values will be in the 30s for parts of the Gulf Coast and in the middle teens for parts of the Midwest Tuesday morning.

The colder air mass eventually reaches the Northeast by late Tuesday into Wednesday, but not before temperatures jump well above normal into the 60s on Monday and Tuesday from Washington D.C. to Boston.

Meanwhile, in Southern California, as people wake up Saturday morning, the area has several weather alerts, including red flag warnings, frost advisories and freeze warnings.

The fire risk will be critical early Saturday before being reduced to elevated later Saturday into Sunday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus live updates: US virus cases may be about 8 times higher than reported


(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 61 million people and killed over 1.4 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:

Nov 27, 5:16 pm
US tops 13 million cases

More than 13 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. crossed 12 million cases six days ago.

Experts have cautioned against reading too much into data reported before next week, as some state updates may be spotty due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nov 27, 4:58 pm
Vermont officials urge residents to quarantine after Thanksgiving

Vermont officials are urging people who had Thanksgiving gatherings with those outside their household to now quarantine.
“My request to Vermonters who may have participated in travel and/or multi-household gatherings is simply this: Please quarantine yourselves at home, and please get tested now and in seven days,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said during a press briefing Friday.
Gov. Phil Scott echoed the health commissioner’s request.

“If you have had one of those gatherings yesterday, then you shouldn't send your kids to school next week," he said. "You should quarantine your kids for at least seven days, get a test, and then we'll move forward."

Scott said earlier in the week that school officials will ask returning students if they attended a Thanksgiving gathering with people outside their household to determine quarantine requirements.

"We did all of this to try and protect Vermont, to try and prevent the rise in the number of cases," Scott said Friday.
ABC News' Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report

Nov 27, 4:10 pm
Ravens-Steelers game postponed again

The Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers Thanksgiving Day game, which was moved to Sunday due to a COVID-19 outbreak, has been postponed again -- to Tuesday.

"These decisions were made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts," the NFL said in a statement.

The move comes after eight Baltimore players were publicly put on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, including defensive end Jihad Ward as of Thursday.

The list means either a player tested positive for COVID-19 or has been identified as a close contact of someone who did.

Though according to ESPN, at least 12 Ravens players have tested positive for COVID-19, including NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.

Nov 27, 1:56 pm
Brazil's president says he won't take a COVID-19 vaccine

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro insisted he will not take a COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm telling you, I'm not going to take it. It's my right," Bolsonaro said Thursday in a live broadcast streamed on various social media platforms.

The right-wing leader also said that Brazil's National Congress is unlikely to require citizens to get vaccinated for COVID-19, and he expressed skepticism over the effectiveness of face masks in curbing the spread of the virus.

Bolsonaro, an avid supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, has downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic despite getting infected himself over the summer.

Brazil has the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world, behind only the United States, and the third-highest number of confirmed cases, after India and the United States, according to a real-time tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Nov 27, 1:38 pm
COVID-19 patient with 'irreversible lung damage' recovers after transplant

A COVID-19 patient whose lungs had been severely damaged by the virus has made a miraculous recovery after undergoing a double lung transplant at a Texas hospital.

Paul Rodriguez, 52, of San Antonio, had no pre-existing conditions when he contracted the novel coronavirus and fell ill with pneumonia in July. Rodriguez was hospitalized at an area hospital in his hometown and required intubation as well as the use of a ventilator. Then in mid-September, Rodriguez was transferred to Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center in Houston for evaluation, "as it became clear that a lung transplant was his only chance of survival," according to a press release from the hospital, which said the patient had "irreversible lung damage."

Rodriguez was approved for a transplant and, within a week of listing, he received a brand-new set of lungs on Oct. 15. After being successfully weaned off the ventilator and oxygen support, Rodriguez underwent rehabilitation at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center and was discharged on Nov. 24. He is expected to continue the rehabilitation program as part of his recovery, according to the press release.

"Rodriguez is the first double lung transplant the hospital has performed on a coronavirus patient since the pandemic began," Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center said in a statement. "To date, only a handful of transplant centers in the U.S. have performed lung transplants on patients due to irreversible lung damage caused by the virus."

Nov 27, 11:49 am
COVID-19 cases in US may be about 8 times higher than reported

The actual number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in the United States reached nearly 53 million at the end of September, according to a model developed by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The scientists estimated the cumulative incidence of COVID-19 in the U.S. population by taking the laboratory-confirmed case counts that were reported nationally and adjusting them for sources of under-detection based on testing practices in inpatient and outpatient settings. Preliminary estimates using the model found that 2.4 million hospitalizations, 44.8 million symptomatic illnesses and 52.9 million total infections may have occurred through Sept. 30.

"This indicates that approximately 84% of the U.S. population has not yet been infected and thus most of the country remains at risk, despite already high rates of hospitalization," the scientists wrote in a report published in the Nov. 25 issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

There were 6.9 million laboratory-confirmed cases of of domestically-acquired infections that were detected and reported nationally through Sept. 30. Since then, the CDC's tally has increased to nearly 12.5 million. Based on the model's ratio, the true estimated total would now be more than 95 million.

Nov 27, 8:46 am
UK government asks regulator to assess AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Friday that he has formally asked the country's medicines regulator to assess whether a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford "meets rigorous safety standards."

The move comes amid questions about preliminary results from late-stage trials of the vaccine candidate, called AZD1222, after the England-based pharmaceutical giant and the university acknowledged that the most positive findings actually stemmed from a dosing error.

On Monday, researchers announced the interim analysis of Phase 3 trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil, which looked at two different dosing regimens. One regimen showed vaccine efficacy of 90% when AZD1222 was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart. A second regimen showed 62% efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart. The combined analysis from both dosing regimens showed an average efficacy of 70%.

The COVID-19 vaccine candidate is the second to reach the formal assessment stage in the United Kingdom, following one developed by New York City-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Nov 27, 7:56 am
Moscow sees 311% spike in COVID-19 deaths

Moscow saw a 311% month-to-month increase in COVID-19 deaths for October, health authorities said.

According to the Moscow Healthcare Department, the Russian capital reported 543 COVID-19 deaths in September followed by 2,235 deaths in October -- an increase of more than 311% -- as a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic swept the country.

Meanwhile, Russia reported a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections on Friday, with the country's coronavirus response headquarters confirming a record 27,543 new cases in the last 24 hours. An additional 496 new deaths from the disease were also registered nationwide in the past day. The country's cumulative total now stands at 2,215,533 confirmed cases, including 38,558 deaths.

Moscow continues to be the epicenter of Russia's COVID-19 outbreak and recent surge. The city accounted for nearly 29% of the newly reported cases and more than 15% of the newly registered deaths, according to the country's coronavirus response headquarters.

The Eastern European nation of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Nov 27, 6:50 am
US reports over 110,000 new cases on Thanksgiving

There were 110,611 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Thursday, the day of Thanksgiving, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the 24th straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Thursday's count is down from a peak of 196,004 new cases on Nov. 20.

An additional 1,232 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Thursday, less than the all-time high of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

COVID-19 data may be skewed this week and next due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.

A total of 12,885,299 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 263,462 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.

New storm system to travel across the South this weekend


(NEW YORK) -- After a relatively quiet Thanksgiving across much of the U.S., the weather pattern is about to turn quite turbulent in the coming days.

A new storm system is going to develop this weekend and track across the Southern and Eastern U.S. bringing multiple hazards, including heavy rain, strong thunderstorms, damaging winds and some snow.

The first impacts of the storm will be Friday with some strong thunderstorms forming near Southeast Texas.

On Saturday, the storm will start to get more organized with heavy rain moving onshore to Southern Texas and New Orleans where localized flooding will be possible.

On Sunday, the storm will be moving through the Gulf States and heavy rain will spread over much of the South from Louisiana to the Carolinas.

Once again localized flooding and some occasional strong thunderstorms with gusty winds will be possible, especially from New Orleans to Raleigh, North Carolina.

On Monday, as the storm travels up the eastern U.S., it will be invigorated by a cold shot of air coming in from the Midwest and the storm will strengthen somewhere over the Appalachians.

The result on the milder eastern side of the storm will be widespread with very heavy rainfall. Additionally, some very strong winds will have the potential to mix down from aloft, especially across New England which could result in some potential for damaging wind gusts, including power outages.

On the colder side of the storm, precipitation will be falling as snow in parts of Ohio and with the heaviest snow likely to be near the Great Lakes.

It remains too early to determine the precise location of the heaviest snow because it will be determined by the precise location of the strengthening storm.

The main global forecast models are indicating that the storm will be a little slow to move out of the region as it moves into southern Canada on Tuesday and Wednesday but the good news is that the storm should weaken during this time period.

The storm will help pull a shot of cold air across much of the central and eastern U.S. with wind chills in the teens expected from Minnesota possibly into parts of Alabama and Georgia by Tuesday morning.

The most notable part of this cold blast is how far south the cold air will reach and it looks like even parts of northern Florida will be feeling like the low 30s on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile in the Southwest, another day of dry Santa Ana winds is expected.

On Thanksgiving, the highest elevations outside Los Angeles saw gusts to 75 mph and we are expecting gusts again Friday to possibly reach 75 mph with relative humidity is expected to be as low as 5%.

The gusty winds and the dry air could cause rapid fire spread through the region possibly causing critical fire conditions Friday.

The core of this threat is expected Friday but there will likely be some lingering fire danger into Saturday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

George Floyd's brothers on the fight for justice, remembering him on Thanksgiving

Courtesy Ben Crump LawBy ANTHONY RIVAS and ALLIE YANG, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Six months after George Floyd was killed in police custody, his brothers said they still feel compelled to fight for justice every day and that when they sit down for Thanksgiving dinner they'll be remembering some of the things they loved most about him.

"I really wanted to see him be able to have a chance to sing a song," Philonise Floyd told ABC News' Nightline co-anchor Byron Pitts. "I think about when he used to pick my mom up, because my mom, she was handicapped, and he used to sing and dance with her."

Terrence Floyd said he's going to eat in commemoration of his late brother.

"He was an eater. He liked to eat. So I'm gonna celebrate him. You know, we'll sit around the table and be thankful, first of all, for the time I spent with him and the encouragement and the words that he gave, because that is always going to be there," Terrence Floyd said. "So even though his physical body is not here with us ... all the things that he said to me, all the things we did together, that's going to be a memory. I'm going to be thankful for that, and I'm gonna also eat for him."

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 during an arrest by Minneapolis police for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. In the moments preceding his death, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was caught on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for 7 minutes and 46 seconds, during which Floyd could be heard pleading several times, "I can't breathe."

In the wake of George Floyd's death, Chauvin and the three other responding officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.

Chauvin is now charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter while the other former officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. None have entered pleas.

Terrence Floyd said he still wonders "why" his brother had to die in such a way. However, both he and Philonise Floyd say that six months later, they're still driven to fight for justice.

"We had to come out and let our voice be heard," Terrence Floyd said.

"Every time I look up, I see somebody who has [gone through] what happened to my brother," added Philonise Floyd. "I just ask myself, 'What more do we have to do? What can we say?' ... Every day, somebody walks up to me and they ask me about my brother. It brings you back to day one. ... People will tell you that, 'Hey you're going to get through it. The world is changing. You have to stay strong. ... You didn't have to do anything, but you chose to get out and get justice for your brother.'"

Shortly after George Floyd's funeral, Philonise Floyd testified before the House Judiciary Committee on police reform. He said his goal was to "get them to understand why" they need to enact the George Floyd Police Reform Act, which aims to increase police accountability and reduce discriminatory practices. The bill has so far only been passed by the House.

"I don't want to have to see anybody else pass away for nonsense," Philonise Floyd said. "There's too many people on Earth for us to be killing each other like this."

While change has been slow at the federal level, on the local level, dozens of cities across the country have implemented some reforms to their police departments, such as banning chokeholds and other neck restraints.

The Floyd family's attorney, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, said these changes have been "significant" but that issues with police brutality still exist and incidents still happen.

As demonstrators took to the streets in the months following George Floyd's death, as well as after the deaths of other Black people killed at the hands of police, such as Breonna Taylor, calls to "defund the police" also rang out.

The movement advocates for reallocating resources from more punitive measures to perhaps more effective ones such as funding more social workers to respond to non-criminal emergency calls. However, with its ambiguous name, it has been met with fierce opposition.

"They're saying we need to reimagine policing in America," Crump said. "We need to reimagine a more just society where George Floyd gets an opportunity to breathe. ... We can better America. That's what this whole notion of reimagining the police is about, and they make it a political football."

"It's not about politics. It's about our children not being killed by the police," Crump added. "That's what this is about. We can do better, America."

Crump said he hopes that President-elect Joe Biden will tackle criminal justice reform in his first 100 days in office and that doing so includes passing the George Floyd Police Reform Act.

In the meantime, Philonise and Terrence Floyd say they'll continue to speak up for their brother and all those who've died because of police brutality.

When asked if they ever go back to the video in which their brother could be seen with Chauvin's knee on his neck, Philonise said he doesn't have to because it's imprinted in his mind.

Terrence Floyd, on the other hand, watches it because "to me, it keeps the fight in me."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scientists, students demand action to keep Arecibo radio telescope operating


(NEW YORK) -- After the National Scientific Foundation (NSF) announced last Thursday the demolition and decommission of the iconic Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, scientists, experts and many Puerto Ricans have taken to digital platforms to plead with the government to save the 57-year-old observatory.

Many including researchers and students are using #SaveTheAreciboObservatory and #WhatAreciboMeansToMe hashtags to share the observatory's impact in their lives and the scientific world. A Twitter account called Save the Arecibo Observatory has also been created.

"#WhatAreciboMeansToMe: More than a telescope," Kevin Ortiz, a physics student at the University of Puerto Rico, wrote on Twitter. For him, the observatory has had "an incalculable impact in the communities of PR."

Organizations including the Planetary Society are also joining the conversation on social media.

"Arecibo Observatory touched the lives of so many people. Its scientific achievements enriched our understanding of the universe and helped protect our planet from asteroids," the organization said in a tweet.

For Ortiz the radio-telescope is not only a Puerto Rican landmark, but it's also a symbol of inspiration.

"I had visited the observatory as a kid many times and it is responsible for sparking my interest in astronomy," Ortiz told ABC News.

The 22-year-old undergrad student is in his last year of college and has been working as an astronomy researcher in the Planetary Habitability Laboratory for more than two years. The Planet HabLab is a research and educational virtual lab from the University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo that uses the radio-telescope to study the habitable universe.

"The observatory is very important for science globally. It's also very important for education, training the new generation of students," said Abel Méndez, professor at the University of Puerto Rico and Planet HabLab's director. "I train students to work at the observatory."

Méndez, whose helped guide Ortiz, trains students to work at the observatory doing research.

"They learn to use the observatory," Méndez added.

"I can go around with people showing the observatory and he would be in the control room doing observations," Méndez spoke about Ortiz's work.

The groundbreaking radio-telescope has been key in tracking asteroids. Among the many accomplishments of the observatory is the discovery of the first extrasolar planets in 1992 and was the first to see a planet orbiting a sun-like star in 1995.

The observatory's impact has led many to join a petition submitted to the White House to keep the radio telescope in operation.

"We urge emergency action to have the Army Corps of Engineers or another agency evaluate the telescope structure and search for a safe way to stabilize it, to provide time for other actions to be considered and carried out," reads the petition, which has been signed by over 20,000 people.

Despite structural damages reported at the telescope, Méndez and Ortiz say there might be a way to save the telescope.

Two cables holding up the 900-ton platform hanging at 450 feet above the ground broke, tearing the 1,000-foot reflector dish.

"We are not complaining about the engineering evaluation, we know that there are risks,'' said Méndez.

Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's resident commissioner, wrote a letter to Congress asking for action to save the observatory.

"We respectfully request that you allocate the funds necessary to enable NSF to continue exploring options to safely stabilize the structure and maintain the telescope and surrounding areas," González's letter said. "We understand that funds could be used to stabilize and immediately work on the repairs."

Repairs for the auxiliary cables damaged in August were already underway, according to González's letter.

"Our question was not if the observatory should be repaired but how. But in the end, a preponderance of data showed that we simply could not do this safely. And that is a line we cannot cross," NSF said in a news release from last week. "Even in the event of repairs going forward, engineers found that the structure would likely present long-term stability issues."

Despite NSF's position, some scientists, including Méndez, believe that with a true commitment from several organizations, including the NSF, the telescope could be saved, restored or even rebuilt.

The radio-telescope is under a cooperative agreement between the University of Central Florida, which operates and manages the facility, Yang Enterprises, Inc., Ana G. Méndez University and the federal entity, NSF.

For many experts the hard news of the official shutdown of the telescope came as sad news, but not as a surprising announcement.

Méndez says that in the past, the NSF has "reduced funding from Arecibo and other observatories." According to Méndez and Ortiz, the foundation started to fund more facilities with newer technology, leaving the observatory behind.

NSF told ABC News in a statement that it "has not decreased funding for the observatory. To the contrary, on top of Arecibo Observatory's operational budget, NSF provided millions of dollars for new equipment and technology, representing an investment in the observatory's future."

"The decision to plan for decommissioning is necessary for safety reasons, and also provides NSF with the chance to preserve as much infrastructure as possible for the future of science at the observatory," the statement continued.

Three years ago, the foundation did produce a plan to reduce funding to Arecibo if new contributors would make the offsetting investments, but the plan didn't emerge, according to the NSF.

Some programs at the Arecibo Observatory that involve the analysis and cataloging of archived data will keep receiving the support of the NSF, the federal entity said.

Regardless of the multiple roadblocks, the scientific community, students and Puerto Ricans say they will keep pushing until something is done to preserve the observatory.

"Arecibo is a facility that is absolutely worth saving," Ortiz said. "It's a critical instrument for planetary protection and planetary defense ... for keeping track of near Earth asteroids."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus updates: TSA screens record number of travelers since pandemic began


(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 60.7 million people and killed over 1.4 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's how the news developed Thursday. All times Eastern:

Nov 26, 7:17 pm
1,319 US deaths on Thanksgiving

The Covid Tracking Project reported 1,319 deaths, below the seven-day average of 1,549, on Thanksgiving, but experts caution against reading too much into data reported before next week as the holiday could prove a catalyst for the virus that's killed at least 263,196 Americans.

On Thursday, total global deaths reached at least 1,428,671.

Nov 26, 12:03 pm
COVID-19 has killed over 30,000 Americans so far this month

More than 30,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 so far this month, according to an ABC News analysis of data collected and published by the COVID Tracking Project.

Of those deaths, 11,507 were reported in just the last seven days. That's about one American death from COVID-19 reported every minute.

The country's COVID-19 death rate has been steadily rising for the past month. Since Oct. 25, the seven-day average of U.S. daily deaths from the disease has doubled, increasing by 103%.

The increase in deaths follows weeks of surging case numbers across the country. The United States is now reporting an average of over 172,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day.

More than 3.5 million cases were recorded in the month of November so far, including at least 22 straight days where over 100,000 new cases were reported. There were 1.2 million cases reported in the last week alone, which means one in every 271 Americans tested positive for COVID-19.

On Wednesday, two of the country's largest states, California and Texas, both reported their highest single-day case count to date. They are the only two states in the nation to surpass one million total cases.

Nov 26, 9:18 am
TSA screens record number of travelers since pandemic began

More than one million people went through airport security checkpoints across the United States on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, despite public health guidance against traveling for the holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 1,070,967 individuals on Wednesday, the highest amount since the coronavirus pandemic was declared in mid-March. The previous pandemic record was set on Sunday, when TSA screened 1,047,934 people.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is recommending that Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving.

"It's not a requirement, it's a recommendation for the American public to consider," Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, told reporters during a call on Nov. 19. "Right now, as we're seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time."

Nov 26, 8:22 am
Russia sees record rise in cases and deaths on same day

Russia confirmed a record 25,487 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, along with an all-time high of 524 new deaths from the disease.

The cumulative total now stands at 2,187,990 confirmed cases, including 38,062 deaths, according to the country's coronavirus response headquarters.

The Eastern European nation of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the growing number of infections and deaths, Russian authorities have repeatedly said they have no plans to impose another nationwide lockdown.

However, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced Thursday that he will extend the local COVID-19 restrictions in the capital city to Jan. 15. Those restrictions, which were set to expire Sunday, include a stay-at-home recommendation for residents over the age of 65 and an order for employers to keep at least 30% of their staff working from home.

Sobyanin said additional measures are not necessary at this point. Although the pace of the COVID-19 infection rate in Moscow appears to be gradually evening out, the mayor said it's still too early to say its on the decline.

"The health care system is still seriously overstretched," Sobyanin wrote on his blog Thursday.

Nov 26, 7:36 am
CDC projects up to 321K virus deaths in US by Dec. 19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects that the country will have recorded up to 321,000 COVID-19 deaths before the end of the year.

The CDC on Wednesday published the latest national ensemble forecast, which predicts that the number of newly reported COVID-19 deaths in the United States will likely increase over the next four weeks, with 10,600 to 21,400 new deaths likely to be reported in the week ending Dec. 19. A total of 294,000 to 321,000 deaths from COVID-19 are projected to be reported nationwide by this date.

Last week's national ensemble forecast predicted there would be a total of 276,000 to 298,000 COVID-19 deaths reported nationwide by Dec. 12.

The ensemble forecasts are based on a combination of the independently developed forecasts that the CDC receives from various modeling groups.

Nov 26, 6:45 am
US reports over 181,000 new cases ahead of Thanksgiving

There were 181,490 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Wednesday, the day before the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the 23rd day in a row that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Wednesday's count is down from a peak of 196,004 new cases on Nov. 20.

An additional 2,297 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Wednesday, the country's highest single-day death toll from the disease since May 6 and just under the all-time high of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.

A total of 12,778,254 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 262,283 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.

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