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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll climbs to 1.5 million; U.S. crosses 14 million infections

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More than 100,000 people in the U.S. are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, a jarring benchmark as the country struggles to slow viral spread. The rise in Covid-19 infections and subsequent hospital stays has squeezed health care systems and strained first responders. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, said Wednesday the next three months are likely to be "the most difficult in the public health history of this nation," with cases, hospitalizations and deaths set to climb. The U.S. is inching closer to a vaccine approval, with Pfizer and Moderna each having filed for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

Here are some of the biggest developments Thursday:

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 64.91 million 
  • Global deaths: At least 1.5 million
  • U.S. cases: More than 14.05 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 275,201

California readies for regional stay-at-home orders based on ICU capacity

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state will impose a regional stay-at-home order to help ease coronavirus patients in its intensive-care units.

The state will be split into five regions — the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. If the remaining ICU capacity in a region falls below 15%, it will trigger a three-week stay-at-home order, the Democratic governor said.

The order would require bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons and barbershops to temporarily close. Personal services are businesses like nail salons, tattoo parlors and body waxing, according to the state's website. Schools that meet the state's health requirements and critical infrastructure would be allowed to remain open, and retail stores could operate at 20% capacity and restaurants would be allowed to offer take-out and delivery, he said.

None of the regions have triggered the order so far, Newsom said, though he anticipates four of the five areas to have less than 15% ICU capacity "as early as the next day or two." The Bay Area is projected to reach that milestone by mid-to-late December.

—Noah Higgins-Dunn

Pfizer shares fall on report it previously cut Covid vaccine rollout target

Pfizer shares fell nearly 2% at the end of the trading session after a Wall Street Journal report said the U.S. drugmaker's current vaccine rollout target is only half of what it originally, privately planned.

Pfizer has publicly said it plans to ship 50 million vaccines by the end of the year, but the Journal reports supply chain problems forced that number down from an original 100 million doses. Pfizer has also said it plans to ship up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. 

"There are several factors which have impacted the number of doses estimated to be available in 2020," Pfizer said in a statement. "For one, scaling up a vaccine at this pace is unprecedented, and we have made significant progress as we have moved forward in the unknown."

Pfizer's vaccine uses messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology. It's a new approach to vaccines that uses genetic material to provoke an immune response.

–Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Fauci walks back critical remarks of UK’s authorization of Pfizer vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's leading infectious disease expert, walked back critical comments he made about the U.K.'s authorization of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.

Earlier in the day, Fauci said the U.K.'s review of the vaccine was done in a "much less deep" way than would have been done by the U.S. FDA.

"The U.K. has decided to do it a little bit differently, they've gone over it very quickly," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Sky News, adding the FDA's reviews are a "very, very stringent process."

Fauci later walked those remarks back, telling BBC television that he had faith in the U.K. regulators and that his comments were really a "misunderstanding."

Pfizer had been submitting data on its vaccine on a "rolling basis" to the U.K., meaning regulators there were able to review the data in real time and do so until there was enough evidence to support a formal authorization.

–Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Warner Bros. to release all 2021 films on HBO Max at the same time they're in theaters

Josh Brolin and Timothée Chalamet in "Dune."
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

AT&T's Warner Bros. announced Thursday that all of its 2021 films will be launched on HBO Max the same day they launch in movie theaters. It's one way Warner Bros. is adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, which has prevented people from going to movie theaters as much as they have in past years.

"We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021," Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group said.

WarnerMedia said this is currently a one-year plan.

Todd Haselton

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