One week out from Thanksgiving, coronavirus cases are still on the rise across the U.S. The national seven-day average of daily new infections now stands at 161,165, according to a CNBC analysis of John Hopkins data, 26% higher than a week ago. Health experts are warning against travel and large gatherings for the holiday, encouraging Americans instead to stay home and slow the spread of the virus.
Here are some of the biggest developments on Thursday:
The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:
A WHO panel advised doctors against using Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for patients hospitalized with Covid-19.
The group said there is currently "no evidence" that it improves survival rates or the need for ventilation.
"After thoroughly reviewing this evidence, the WHO GDG expert panel, which includes experts from around the world including four patients who have had covid-19, concluded that remdesivir has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes for patients, such as the need for mechanical ventilation or time to clinical improvement," the group wrote in a press release.
The recommendation was published in the British medical trade journal The BMJ on Friday in the U.K.
-Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
Vice President Mike Pence sought to reassure Americans Thursday evening that the country is "prepared" to handle the coronavirus outbreak even as the nation's top health agency warns that new deaths caused by Covid-19 are accelerating into the winter.
The event at the White House marked the first press briefing from the coronavirus task force since July, as well as the first such briefing since Covid-19 cases surged to their highest-ever levels in the U.S.
"America has never been more prepared to combat this virus than we are today," Pence said at the beginning of the briefing.
The presentation from the White House appeared out of step with messaging from the CDC. Earlier Thursday, the CDC broke its silence, holding a rare news briefing in which Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's Covid-19 incident manager, said "we're alarmed" about the state of U.S. outbreak. He added that the U.S. is seeing an "exponential increase in cases and hospitalizations and deaths."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use clearance for Eli Lilly's rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib to be used along with Gilead Sciences remdesivir in treating coronavirus patients.
The FDA made the decision after reviewing a clinical trial by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which showed a slight reduction in median recovery time for patients treated with the combination compared to patients treated only with remdesivir.
Pfizer is expected to file an application on Friday to the FDA seeking emergency use for its coronavirus vaccine, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters.
"We would expect Moderna filing soon also," he added during the White House coronavirus task force's first public meeting in months.
Pfizer said Wednesday it would submit an application to the agency "within days' after a final data analysis found its vaccine was highly effective and appeared to be safe. A safe and effective vaccine is seen by investors and policymakers as a solution to get the global economy back on track after the pandemic wreaked havoc on nearly every country.
–Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
California will impose a "limited Stay at Home Order" on a majority of the state's residents beginning Saturday, requiring nonessential work and gatherings to cease between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in a tweet.
The order applies to people living in counties under California's most restricted reopening tier, which is roughly 94% of the population.
"These immediate actions will help reduce community spread, protect individuals at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, and prevent the state's health care delivery system from becoming overwhelmed," Dr. Erica Pan, the state's acting public health officer, said in a statement. "Reducing movement and mixing of individual Californians is critical to decreasing transmission, hospitalizations, and deaths."
Pan said that activities conducted during this time are typically nonessential, like "social activities and gatherings that have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition." People are less likely to wear face coverings or socially distance during these events, Pan said.
The order will remain in effect until Dec. 21 and may be revised or extended, according to the statement.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the coronavirus positivity rate in the state is now 5.6%, up from just 3% recently. Hospitalizations are up 12% in the last 2 weeks, Ghaly said, adding that about 12% of new positive test results will be hospitalized within 2 to 3 weeks.
Ghaly said that the state's actions back in March had kept Californians ahead of the curve and appealed to all residents to help.
—Noah Higgins-Dunn, Riya Bhattacharjee
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a press conference in New York that the majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., signaled that he was open to resuming the long-stalled talks over Covid-19 relief.
Shortly after Schumer made those remarks, however, Democratic and Republican aides told NBC News that the New York lawmaker had oversold the development.
Aides to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are meeting on Thursday to begin government funding talks that will be necessary to avert a shutdown next month, and Covid-19 relief is expected to be part of those discussions.
Democrats and Republicans have been at an impasse for months over the size and scope of Covid-19 economic relief, with Democrats pressing for spending in the trillions and Republicans largely unwilling to go over $500 billion.
Financial assistance and other protections for millions of Americans are expected to lapse at the end of the year without a deal.
The coronavirus pandemic is driving more young adults to move back home. In July, 52% lived with one or both parents, higher than the peak reached during the Great Depression era, a recent Pew Research Center analysis found.
Meanwhile, 50% of parents are helping pay their adult children's everyday expenses like groceries and cell phone bills, according to a September survey by Country Financial.
While moms and dads may want to help out, they need to make sure they don't sacrifice their retirement savings, said Lawrence Sprung, president of Hauppauge, New York- based Mitlin Financial. They may also be hurting their children's discipline going forward.
To ensure your kids land on their feet, make sure you set parameters for the new living situation or the monetary help. Have them contribute to the household expenses, or at the very least the household chores. Both parents and kids should have a budget to track what's coming in and going out, with parents taking into account the added expenses from the new arrangement. —Michelle Fox
Around 12 million Americans are poised to lose unemployment benefits at the end of the year, coinciding with the expiration of protections for renters and student loan borrowers.
That nexus may spell financial catastrophe for many who remain jobless, especially people of color and lower earners, absent any federal extensions, which look increasingly unlikely to materialize.
Meanwhile, the economic recovery is showing signs of losing steam and officials around the country are reimposing business shutdowns to dampen rising Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Nearly a quarter of roughly 300 sailors from Navy destroyer USS Michael Murphy have tested positive for Covid-19, officials told NBC News Thursday.
All positive cases from the ship are ashore in Hawaii and no one has been hospitalized, the officials said. Other sailors are quarantining on board with a caretaker crew. The USS Michael Murphy is docked at Pearl Harbor and currently being cleaned, according to the officials.
The close quarters aboard Navy vessels create an environment conducive to coronavirus outbreaks. The USS Wayne E. Meyer also recently reported several Covid cases among sailors assigned to the ship.
In March, coronavirus swept through the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a ship underway in the Pacific with 4,779 in crew. A study later found that 27% of the crew tested positive for Covid-19 during the duration of the outbreak. A sailor assigned to the Theodore Roosevelt died of Covid-19-related complications in April, the Navy said.
Convincing people who consider the coronavirus to be "fake news" to get vaccinated against the disease could become an issue as the nation seeks to achieve so-called herd immunity, White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
"They actually don't think that this is a problem," Fauci said during a conversation with The Hastings Center. "Despite a quarter million deaths, despite more than 11 million infections, despite 150,000 new infections a day, they don't believe it's real. That is a real problem."
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has estimated that at least 75% of the country will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, though ideally that figure would be higher. His comments with The Hastings Center are similar to those published in an interview with The New York Times on Thursday where Fauci said he's "stunned" that people in certain parts of the country with devastating Covid-19 outbreaks still consider the pandemic to be fake. — Noah Higgins-Dunn
Dr. Celine Gounder, who sits on President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus task force, told CNBC that more people will be infected with Covid-19 and die the longer the Trump administration delays the transition process and avoids coordinating the vaccine's distribution.
The Trump administration's vaccine distribution team confirmed on a conference call Thursday that they haven't briefed anyone on Biden's transition team, "and have no plans to do so," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a tweet.
"The longer we wait on transition the more people will get infected and die," said Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. "I think this is really a major impediment to rolling out and scaling up the vaccine."
A recent study found that about 10% of Covid patients have lingering symptoms, or what's now being called post-Covid syndrome.
Many of these so-called long haulers are younger patients, says Dr. Noah Greenspan, a cardiopulmonary physical therapist and founder of the New York-based Pulmonary Wellness and Rehabilitation Center and the new Covid Rehabilitation and Recovery Clinic.
While it's still too early to know exactly what the potential long-term costs associated with contracting Covid will be, research shows that there's a significant difference in health costs between people who have chronic conditions and those who don't.
For patients under the age of 65, diseases of the blood, congenital anomalies and circulatory system diseases are among the most expensive chronic conditions, adding up to average out-of-pocket costs over $1,500 annually, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In contrast, the average health insurance plan participant without a chronic condition paid just $778 a year out-of-pocket.
Beyond the financial costs, Covid long haulers are also concerned about the potential opportunity costs: If they are facing a lifelong illness, how will their futures be impacted?
"Covid, in my experience, is and will continue to be with me every day and part of every decision I make," says Corianne Goldstein, a Covid long hauler who's been experiencing symptoms and complications for months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended Americans against traveling for Thanksgiving to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
"CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period," Dr. Henry Walke, CDC's Covid-19 incident manager, said on a conference call with reporters. "For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living."
He said the CDC is concerned "about the transportation hubs" and whether people will be able to maintain social distancing in places like airports and bus depots. He added that the holiday comes as the U.S. outbreak grows worse by the day.
"We're alarmed," he said, adding that the country has seen an "exponential increase" in cases, hospitalizations and deaths recently. "One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it."
Some older Americans may not get a Covid-19 vaccine as quickly as they want. Although Medicare — which insures much of the 65-and-older crowd — changed its rules to cover a fast-tracked vaccine, the availability of initial doses will be limited.
While it's possible that one or two coronavirus vaccines become available in December, the distribution is expected to happen in phases. If states follow guidelines issued last month by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, phase 1A would target healthcare workers and first responders. Phase1B would include individuals with underlying health conditions that put them at significant risk for serious illness, as well as older adults living in congregate or crowded settings (which would include nursing homes and the like).
All older adults who weren't included in phase 1 would be among the populations targeted in phase 2. It's uncertain at this point exactly when all of this will occur, given it depends at least partly on vaccine availability and the logistics of distributing it.
Like many people, Vicky Amores, a New York City-based interior designer, wants to get tested ahead of the holidays. Others waiting in line at a CityMD location in Manhattan said their workplace required regular screening. Another woman waiting at the same CityMD, Elizabeth Abelt, said she was going to dinner with a "very paranoid" friend Tuesday night who asked her to get tested beforehand. Abelt said she had waited for more than five hours to get tested.
With the holidays approaching, some companies calling workers back to the office and anxiety over the virus rising with the daily case count, demand for accurate Covid-19 testing is spiking. The surge in demand is yet again stressing the supply chain for PCR molecular tests — the gold standard in Covid-19 testing — leading to long lines for testing, shortages in testing kits and other supplies, and processing delays across the country.
Dr. Patrick Godbey, the president of the College of American Pathologists and the director of two labs in Georgia, said he's "very worried" about being able to meet the needs of his patients in the weeks ahead.
"I do not have enough," Godbey said. "I'm very worried that as the cases go up, that I will not have enough reagents and I will not have enough consumables."
About 4 in 10 Americans say they couldn't afford to buy enough food for themselves and their families for the first time as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent poll.
About half of those polled by OnePoll in conjunction with Two Good Yogurt say they've struggled to afford food during the pandemic, while 37% report skipping meals themselves so there was enough food for their children to eat.
The majority of Americans experiencing food insecurity — which is generally defined as when an individual doesn't have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable food — say the expiration of many federal assistance programs, such as enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus payments, has made it even more difficult. About half report that they're struggling to provide food for their families more now than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
More than 50 million Americans will likely experience food insecurity this year, including about 17 million children, according to estimates from Feeding America, a leading national nonprofit food bank network.
Federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are helping Americans experiencing food insecurity, but food banks and pantries have also experienced increased demand for months now — a situation which may not be sustainable long-term.
"The problem hasn't gone away," says Laura Lester, director of the Alabama Food Bank Association. "The initial crushing blow of everything has eased up a little, but not as much as you would think."
In March, student loan payments and accruing interest were paused for millions of borrowers due to the coronavirus pandemic. In August, President Donald Trump extended the break, but only through the end of the year.
Without a further extension of the moratorium, more than 37 million borrowers who haven't been making payments will have to restart them in January.
While some borrowers are anxiously waiting to see if President Trump will further extend the pause, or if President-elect Joe Biden will signal a plan to forgive some debt when he takes office, it's unclear that either will happen. In the meantime, experts recommend borrowers start preparing now to resume payments.
The drop in bookings comes as health officials have warned against travel and large Thanksgiving gatherings. The timing of the Covid-19 case spike is especially painful for airlines that were eager for a bump in revenue over the holiday, one of the busiest periods of the year. The Chicago-based carrier said its capacity in the fourth quarter would drop at least 55% from a year ago.
Fourth-quarter sales will likely drop 67% from the same period in 2019. United's revenue dropped 78% in the third quarter from a year ago.
The airline expects its cash burn in the last three months of 2020 to average between $15 million and $20 million a day, outside of an average $10 million a day in debt and severance payments. Third-quarter cash burn was about $25 million a day, including $4 million a day in debt payments.
Weekly jobless claims came in worse than expected for last week, with 742,000 first-time filings compared with 710,000 expected by economists.
That readout also marks an acceleration from the previous week's jobless claims total, CNBC's Jeff Cox reports, suggesting the coronavirus pandemic continues to stymie the labor market.
Work needs to be done to ensure coronavirus vaccines reach everyone around the world, the World Health Organization's Europe chief said Thursday.
"In the last few days we have received good news with two particularly promising vaccines. However, this promise will never be realized unless we ensure that all countries have access to the vaccine market, that it is delivered equitably, that it is effectively deployed and that countries address pockets of vaccine hesitancy," Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said Thursday.
"Any Covid vaccine should be a global, public good" with equal access for all, he added.
Pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna both announced preliminary data showed their respective coronavirus vaccines were highly effective and safe, prompting a collective sigh of relief around the world. Regulators are yet to approve the vaccines, however, and logistical questions remain over the potential speed of mass production and distribution worldwide.
The Department of Health and Human Services has launched a pilot program with five states to introduce the rapid, point-of-care Covid-19 test, using the same diagnostics the National Basketball Association employed to finish its season, the agency announced.
The pilot program — adopted by Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, Texas and Alaska — is expected to ramp up to 100,000 tests per day by the spring, according to the federal contract and HHS officials.
The test by Cue, which is backed by Johnson & Johnson among other investors, is a molecular test that uses a sample collected from the lower part of the nose with a swab and produces results in about 20 minutes. It's among the most promising in development because it's more accurate than antigen tests, which sometimes need to be confirmed by a molecular test, and because it produces results more rapidly than lab-based PCR tests.
"The key is having the sensitivity of a laboratory test, but the deployability of an antigen test," Cue Health founder and CEO Ayub Khattak said in a phone interview. "If you could confirm in 20 minutes versus in two or three days, that's very helpful in getting to the right decision sooner in terms of the diagnosis."
Global debt rose to a new high of more than $272 trillion during the third quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic spurred government and corporate borrowing.
Among advanced nations, debt surged to 432% of third-quarter GDP — a 50 percentage point increase from 2019. The U.S., which implemented one of the biggest stimulus packages in the world, accounted for almost half of that rise, CNBC's Silvia Amaro reports.
The study tested the drug on 560 healthy adults, including 240 over the age of 70, and found it to produce a similar immune response among people over 56 and those aged between 18 and 55, CNBC's Sam Meredith reports.
The data adds to a string of encouraging vaccine results over the past couple weeks, following promising trial readouts from Pfizer and Moderna.