The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency authorization for the experimental antibody treatment given to President Trump shortly after he learned he had the coronavirus, giving doctors another option to treat patients as cases across the country continue to rise.
The treatment, made by the biotech company Regeneron, is a cocktail of two powerful antibodies that have shown promise in early studies at keeping the infection in check, reducing medical visits for patients who get the drug early in the course of their disease. A similar treatment, made by Eli Lilly, was given emergency approval earlier this month.
The emergency authorization for Regeneron’s drug is limited in scope: It is for people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and who are at high risk for developing severe Covid-19. And evidence so far suggests that Regeneron’s antibody treatment, like Eli Lilly’s, works best early in the course of the disease, before the virus has gained a foothold in the body. Like Eli Lilly’s treatment, Regeneron’s is not authorized for use in people who are hospitalized or who need oxygen.
The emergency authorization raises immediate questions about who will get access to the treatments as an average of more than 168,000 coronavirus cases are reported each day in the United States and hospitals are running out of beds in some regions of the country. Regeneron has said it will have enough of the drug for only about 80,000 people by the end of November, and enough for 200,000 patients by the first week of January, and 300,000 by the end of January. After that, the company said it will be able to ramp up production thanks to a partnership with the Swiss manufacturer Roche.
Regeneron has received more than $500 million from the federal government to develop and manufacture the treatments. Although the first 300,000 doses will be provided for free, patients may be charged for having the treatment administered; it must be infused in a clinic or a hospital. For some Medicare beneficiaries, that cost would most likely be $60, depending on the patient’s coverage plan.
Antibody treatments have gotten less attention than vaccines, but health officials have long held out hope that they may serve as a possible bridge until a coronavirus vaccine is more broadly available. Two vaccines, one made by Pfizer and another by Moderna, were recently shown to be more than 90 percent effective in early analyses. Pfizer, which has completed its trial, submitted an application on Friday for emergency authorization of the vaccine, and Moderna said it also planned to apply soon. Still, it will be weeks before a vaccine is available, and even then, access will be limited to people in high-risk groups.
Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, Regeneron’s president and chief scientific officer, said in a statement that he was encouraged by the recent vaccine results, but “there remains a need to treat patients who develop Covid-19, especially as some may not have had access to or were not protected by vaccination.”
Regeneron enjoyed a burst of publicity in October, when Mr. Trump received an infusion of its cocktail and then enthusiastically promoted the drug as something that had lent him a superpower-like feeling. In a video released on Oct. 7, the president claimed without evidence that it had cured him, and that he had authorized it — something he does not have the power to do.
It remains impossible to know whether the Regeneron treatment helped Mr. Trump. He was given multiple drugs while at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and many people recover from the virus on their own.
The latest wave of the coronavirus has inundated Europe after a summer in which many of its countries appeared to have brought the pandemic under control more effectively than the Americas did.
The tide in Europe appears to have crested in recent days, but not before setting records that prompted another series of shutdowns and, for the first time since the spring, stretching hospitals to their limits. And the struggle there against the virus is far from over.
From late September to early November, the rate of new cases reported across the continent quintupled, to about 300,000 a day, accounting for about half the global total, before declining a bit, according to data compiled by The New York Times and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Deaths have shot up from about 700 a day to almost 5,000, and a clear pattern of receding has yet to emerge. Hospitalization numbers have begun to flatten, but at a level that is nearly as high as the spring peak.
As recently as late August, Austria and the Czech Republic each had fewer than 30 Covid-19 patients in intensive care units. Earlier this month, they reported record highs — 599 in Austria and 1,244 in the Czech Republic. Belgium had fewer than 60 Covid-19 intensive-care patients in early September; that figure peaked two months later at 1,474. Those numbers are now receding in all three countries.
When the first wave peaked in April, it was concentrated in a few western European countries, but the latest crisis has struck nearly every part of Europe, including countries that were largely spared in the spring.
While some countries are showing progress, many — including Italy, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and Austria — are recording new cases and Covid-19 deaths faster than the United States, relative to their populations. Many others, including France, Britain, Spain, Romania and Belgium, have lower case rates but higher fatality rates.
Montenegro is leading the world with the highest daily average of cases per person, according to Times data, which shows a global top 10 of entirely European countries. Montenegro is under a two-week curfew, with citizens barred from leaving their homes from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for essential work and needs.
On Friday, Patriarch Irinej, the leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, died of Covid-19, the church confirmed, after he attended a funeral in neighboring Montenegro for the country’s senior bishop. Thousands were in attendance, many of whom are shown unmasked in a video.
Almost a third of Portugal’s total cases have come in the last two weeks, the number rising to more than 250,000 from just over 170,000 on Nov. 7.
On Saturday, Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal said the country would restrict domestic travel around two upcoming national holidays, on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8, Reuters reported. Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 p.m. on Nov. 27 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 2, and from 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 9. Schools will also be closed the Mondays before both holidays, and businesses will be required to close early.
Mr. Johnson, who had the virus in March, announced on Oct. 31 that tough measures would be ordered in England, including shutting down pubs and retail shops while allowing restaurants to serve only takeout food. The measures are set to expire on Dec. 2 and will be replaced with a tiered regional system, in which each tier carries a different set of restrictions. Mr. Johnson is set to announce details of a “Covid winter plan” on Monday.
But speaking at the Group of 20 summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, European leaders stressed the need for a global response to the pandemic, not one that focuses just on the needs of wealthier countries like theirs.
President Emmanuel Macron of France warned against “a two-speed world where only the richer can protect themselves against the virus and restart normal lives.”
As more countries return to shutdowns, governments are straining to find ways to support furloughed and unemployed workers, and to keep restaurants and other businesses from going bankrupt. This week, in an extraordinary move, the European Central Bank all but promised to unleash new relief measures by December at the latest.
As the United States continues breaking record after record — over 198,000 new cases in a single day on Friday, more than 82,000 people hospitalized — some states and cities are hoping nightly curfews will help stop the coronavirus from leaping from person to person at bars, parties and other nocturnal events.
California is the latest to issue an overnight curfew, a measure more often imposed to calm public unrest than for the sake of public health.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat, issued the order for most of the state’s counties on Thursday, requiring that, beginning Saturday, people not leave their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for essential reasons, and that restaurants close for dining then as well. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, issued a similar curfew that went into effect on Thursday.
In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, ordered that bars and restaurants in the state close at 10 p.m. Some local governments have also imposed curfews, such as in Pueblo, Colo., and Miami-Dade County, Fla. Chicago also ordered that restaurants and bars close at 10 p.m.
The measures also show how widely the response to the virus can vary by state. None of the states where the virus is spreading at the fastest rates — South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa and Nebraska — have issued curfews, even as governors of some of those states have begun to require face masks indoors for the first time.
The changes come as the virus has, in the past week, killed more than 1,900 people and infected more than 168,000 new people each day, on average as of Friday.
Public health officials have repeatedly warned that the virus can spread more easily at late-night gatherings as people shout, sing, get closer to one another or, perhaps, flout the rules as they drink. In June, health officials in Ada County, Idaho, which includes Boise, determined that half of the area’s newly infected were people who had likely gotten the virus from bars and nightclubs.
“The rules for when bars are open are supposed to be that you can come down with your group and you don’t interact with others,” said Mayor Nick Gradisar of Pueblo, Colo., a city of about 112,000 people where a curfew has been extended to Nov. 27. But people sometimes don’t follow those rules after they have been drinking, he added. “That’s how this virus spreads.”
Public health experts also caution that it can take several weeks for measures like mask mandates, restaurant closings and restrictions on gatherings to influence people’s behavior and start to flatten the epidemic curve. The effect may be delayed because the incubation period for the disease is up to 14 days, so some proportion of the public is already infected.
A spokesman for Mr. DeWine said he believed Ohio’s three-week curfew “can make a dent” in the state’s rising cases while letting bars and restaurants continue to make money by serving people earlier in the evening.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of California Health and Human Services, said that the state’s curfew was targeted to stop the most harmful behaviors.
“We’ve seen in the past that Covid goes from zero to 60 miles per hour very quickly,” he said at a news conference on Thursday. “We know that those who are out, who might be engaging in higher-risk behaviors, that those infections can quickly spread to other settings.”
Discussions on how to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and deal with the global economic damage it has wrought dominated the Group of 20 summit, which began on Saturday and is being hosted virtually by Saudi Arabia.
In private sessions, heads of state of the world’s 19 richest countries and the European Union spoke about how to ensure the equal distribution of vaccines and potential debt relief for poor countries hit hard by the virus.
“We must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples,” King Salman of Saudi Arabia, 84, said of vaccines and treatments during his opening address. “At the same time, we must prepare better for any future pandemic.”
The pandemic has reached new levels around the world and killed more than 1.3 million people. The seven-day average of new daily infections topped 578,000 as of Friday, double what it was two months ago. Major economies collapsed in the first half of the year, improved in the late summer and then tumbled again in a new surge of virus cases. The strains of the catastrophe — from failed businesses and elevated joblessness to disrupted education and increasing global poverty — appear likely to endure, potentially for years.
Speaking from New York a day before the summit, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, called on the leaders to ensure that vaccines be made available to people around the world, not just the rich countries that have already reserved much of the vaccine supplies. He said $28 billion would be needed to achieve that goal, in addition to the $10 billion already invested.
“This funding is critical for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new Covid-19 vaccines and tools around the world,” Mr. Guterres said. “G20 countries have the resources.”
President Trump briefly participated in the summit from the White House Situation Room. But he was not listed as a participant at a sideline event on pandemic preparedness, instead following his recent weekend routine of tweeting assertions of election “fraud” and heading to his Virginia country club for a round of golf.
The virus transformed the annual summit, reducing an event that was supposed to allow Saudi Arabia to play host to the world’s great powers to a giant webinar.
The shift deprived Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a son of the king and the kingdom’s de facto ruler, the opportunity to mingle with other global leaders, which could have helped revive his international reputation.
Saudi Arabia and Prince Mohammed, 35, have faced harsh criticism for the Saudi military intervention in Yemen, the arrest of peaceful activists and the killing and dismembering of the dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.
Saudi critics lobbied G20 members to boycott the summit or to use the platform to speak out about human rights. None did. Diplomats said the meeting was too important to miss, but that they often raised rights concerns with Saudi leaders privately.
Known coronavirus cases in the United States have now surpassed 12 million, and the daily routines of a vast number of Americans are now shaped by their ZIP codes and governors and beliefs about the virus. Do they wear masks? Go to school in person or online? Eat out? Get exposed to the virus?
The pandemic and the nation’s disjointed response have taken the notion of two Americas to a new extreme. The contrasts are particularly visible in South Dakota and New Mexico, states that are living two different economies: one wide-open, the other bolted shut.
In South Dakota, where a conservative frontier philosophy dominates, the economy has fared relatively well, with unemployment at 3.6 percent, well below the 6.9 percent national average. Some towns, stores and school districts require masks or social distancing, but, as a whole, the state has the fewest restrictions of any, with neither a mask mandate nor significant limits on businesses.
But hospitalization rates have been the highest in the nation, and more than 7 percent of the population has tested positive. The state has the country’s second-highest rate of new cases.
Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, sees her approach as a badge of freedom, criticizing restrictions as ineffective and economically destructive.
“You wouldn’t even know there’s a pandemic going on,” said Heidi Haugan, a mother of four young children in Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s biggest city.
New Mexico has fewer cases per capita, but a more alarming trend line. Daily case numbers have more than doubled over the past two weeks. On Monday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, put the state’s two million residents under some of the toughest restrictions in the country, issuing a two-week stay-at-home order, banning restaurant dining, setting capacity limits on grocery stores and closing indoor malls, movie theaters and gyms.
And the virus has been pummeling the economy. Unemployment in New Mexico has risen to 8 percent — roughly the same as neighboring, Republican-led Arizona — and small-business owners voice widespread fears about closing down.
In both South Dakota and New Mexico, people are hurting in similar ways — not only suffering economic and health woes, but rifts with family members and friends over the virus and how to fight it.
Allison Byington, who lives in South Dakota, said her mother recently called her a murderer for refusing to wear a face mask. “We don’t have a relationship anymore,” Ms. Byington said.
The governments of Hong Kong and Singapore have temporarily scrapped a plan for a travel bubble, as Hong Kong grapples with a spike in coronavirus infections. The delay underscores the challenges of reopening international travel routes as efforts to control the virus remain unstable across the world.
The arrangement between the two Asian financial centers, which would allow travelers to bypass quarantine, was set to begin on Sunday. But Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary of commerce, said on Saturday that the two cities were pushing back the plan for two weeks because of a “recent upsurge in local cases” in Hong Kong.
“For any scheme to be successful, it must fulfill the condition of securing public health and also making sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Mr. Yau said, describing the delay as a “responsible” decision. Further announcements about the plan will be made by early December, he added.
The travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore would have allowed one designated daily flight into each city, carrying up to 200 passengers who tested negative for the virus.
After a period of relatively few infections, Hong Kong recorded 43 new cases and was verifying more possible ones on Saturday, the city’s health authorities said, up from 26 new cases on Friday. Singapore on Saturday recorded five infections, and said that all of them had been brought in from abroad.
Hong Kong has also further tightened its social distancing rules, banning live performances and dancing at bars and nightclubs, and banning room rentals for private parties.
In other news from around the world:
Two of China’s largest port cities, Shanghai and Tianjin, are conducting major testing efforts after announcing a handful of locally transmitted coronavirus infections, renewing worries about whether the country can continue to keep out the virus after coming close to eradicating it over the summer. Tianjin said on Friday that it had discovered four cases, all in its port area, and it sealed off the residential community there. Shanghai said on Saturday that an airport cargo security officer and his wife, a nurse, had both been infected.
A day after Japan reported a record 2,427 new cases, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Saturday that the country would scale back a subsidy program for domestic tourism in places where infection rates are high. The roughly $16 billion “Go to Travel” program was meant to stimulate the economy, but many questioned its wisdom. Mr. Suga told the Japanese parliament on Friday that about 40 million trips had been taken through the program so far, and that 176 of the tourists had contracted the virus. Toshio Nakagawa, the head of the Japan Medical Association, has said that while there is no concrete evidence linking the program to the country’s recent surge in infections, “there is no mistaking that it acted as a catalyst.”
Portugal’s prime minister, Antonio Costa, said on Saturday that domestic travel would be banned and schools closed around two upcoming holidays in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus ahead of Christmas, Reuters reported. Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 p.m. on Nov. 27 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 2, and then again from 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 9, to prevent movement around national holidays on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8. Schools will close on the Mondays before both holidays, and businesses must close early.
The family of one epidemiologist plans to celebrate Thanksgiving in a garage, with tables 10 feet apart and the doors rolled up. Another epidemiologist’s family is forgoing a traditional meal for an outdoor hot cider toast with neighbors. A third is dining in an outdoor tent, with a heater, humidifier and air purifier running.
And, according to an informal survey of 635 epidemiologists by The New York Times, the large majority are not celebrating with people outside their household. Public health experts from a range of backgrounds answered our questionnaire. Not all of them study Covid-19, but all have professional training about how to think about disease spread and risk.
Seventy-nine percent said they were having Thanksgiving dinner with members of their household or not at all. Just 21 percent said they would be dining with people outside their household — and in most cases, they described going to great lengths to do so in a safe way. Their answers were similar for the other winter holidays, like Christmas and Hanukkah.
About 8,000 epidemiologists were invited to participate in our survey, which was circulated by email to the membership of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and to individual scientists.
The holiday season is arriving as the coronavirus spreads with renewed strength across the United States, with cases up 67 percent and deaths up 63 percent in the last 14 days. On Thursday, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to avoid travel and celebrate the holiday only with members of their household. Epidemiologists are making these same personal decisions, with added expertise.
This year, as they prepare to let turkeys brine and pie crusts thaw, people across the country are waiting for something extra: a coronavirus test they hope can clear them to mingle with loved ones.
Because a positive test filters out people who should definitely not be out with others, many people consider a negative coronavirus test to be a ticket to freely socialize without precautions. But scientists and doctors say this is dangerously misguided.
The main reason is that a test gives information about the level of the virus at the time of the test. A person could be infected but not have enough virus for it to register yet. Or, a person may become infected in the hours or days after taking a test. Also, the tests do not have 100 percent accuracy.
“If you require all of your guests to email you a negative test result before your Thanksgiving dinner, it will definitely decrease the risk of an outbreak — but not completely,” said Dr. KJ Seung, chief of strategy and policy for the Covid response at Partners in Health. Yet this is a common misperception contact tracers hear when talking to people, he said.
Laboratory tests that rely on a technique called polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., can detect the virus when it’s present even at very low levels. But it might take a couple of days to return results, leaving time for someone to be exposed.
Antigen tests are faster, less expensive and more convenient — they can deliver results in a matter of minutes — but are also more prone to missing the virus when it’s scarce. And that could give someone a false sense of security en route to Thanksgiving dinner, said Paige Larkin, a clinical microbiologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago, where she specializes in infectious disease diagnostics.
“A negative result is a snapshot in time,” Dr. Larkin said. “It’s telling you that, at that exact second you are tested, the virus was not detected. It does not mean you’re not infected.”
In summary, as Dr. Esther Choo, an emergency medicine physician and a professor at Oregon Health and Science University, put it: “Testing negative basically changes nothing about behavior. It still means wear a mask, distance, avoid indoors if you can.”
The drug maker Pfizer said on Friday that it had submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, setting in motion an accelerated regulatory process that could allow some Americans to get a vaccine by the middle of December.
Regulators at the F.D.A. plan to take about three weeks to review Pfizer’s vaccine before an outside panel of experts meets to review the application the second week of December. That meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 10.
The agency typically, though not always, follows the advice of its advisory committees. If committee members reach a consensus about the effectiveness of Pfizer’s vaccine, the company could receive emergency clearance by mid-December.
Another front-runner, Moderna, is also on the verge of submitting its vaccine for review, and the outside panel could review the company’s vaccine soon after Pfizer’s. Both use a synthetic version of coronavirus genetic material, called mRNA, to program a person’s cells to churn out many copies of a fragment of the virus, teaching the immune system how to build a protective response.
You might assume that means that these vaccines will protect 95 out of 100 people who get them. But exactly how the vaccines perform out in the real world will depend on a lot of factors we just don’t have answers to yet.
Here are some things to consider about the vaccines’ actual effectiveness.
What’s the difference between efficacy and effectiveness?
Efficacy is a measurement made during a clinical trial, while effectiveness describes how well it works in real life. If previous vaccines are any guide, effectiveness may prove somewhat lower than the impressive efficacy found in clinical trials.
That’s because the people who join clinical trials are not a perfect reflection of the population at large. Out in the real world, people may have a host of chronic health problems that could interfere with a vaccine’s protection, for example.
What exactly are these vaccines effective at doing?
The clinical trials run by Pfizer and other companies were specifically designed to see whether vaccines protect people from getting sick from Covid-19. So only volunteers who developed symptoms like a fever or cough were tested for the coronavirus. But it’s possible that some people who got vaccinated in the trials got infected without developing symptoms. If those cases exist, none of them are reflected in the 95 percent efficacy rate, and the real rate would actually be lower.
Will these vaccines put a dent in the epidemic?
Even a vaccine with extremely high efficacy in clinical trials will have a small impact if only a few people end up getting it. A. David Paltiel, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, modeled different vaccines based on their efficacy rates, and also how quickly and widely they can be distributed.
“Infrastructure is going to contribute at least as much, if not more, than the vaccine itself to the success of the program,” he said.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met on Friday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, the first in-person gathering of the Democratic leaders since the election.
In a one-minute photo opportunity with reporters, Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were seated in a conference room at a large table with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer. All were masked and sat several feet from one another.
“In my Oval Office, me casa, you casa,” Mr. Biden joked, drawing chuckles from the others. “I hope we’re going to spend a lot of time together.”
Ms. Pelosi gave Mr. Biden a white orchid to celebrate his 78th birthday, according to an aide.
In a joint statement afterward, the four Democrats said the meeting was focused on the need “to pass a bipartisan emergency aid package in the lame duck session,” one that included money to fight the coronavirus and provide financial relief to the unemployed, businesses, and state and local governments.
Mr. Biden also discussed his agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency, according to the statement, including his plans to contain the coronavirus and restore the economy, based on “the American people’s mandate for action.”
Jen Psaki, a transition spokeswoman, told reporters earlier in the day that the four leaders were “going to be working in lock step and they are in lock step agreement that there needs to be emergency assistance and aid during the lame duck session to help families, to help small businesses.”
“There’s no more room for delay,” she added.
The meeting came as the nation continues to be led by a president who refuses to concede the election and is using lawsuits, divisive language and pressure tactics to try to overturn the results.
Mr. Biden, Democrats and a small number of Republicans have been urging the president to focus on fighting the surging pandemic and bolstering economic recovery.
In recent days, Mr. Biden has spoken repeatedly about the urgent need for Congress to agree on a new stimulus spending package, saying that Senate Republicans should drop their opposition to a measure passed by House Democrats last month. He has made no public suggestion that Democrats should change their position or offer new compromise legislation.
Beyond his meeting with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer on Friday, Mr. Biden was speaking with “elected officials from both sides of the aisle” about the issue, Ms. Psaki said, but did not offer more specifics.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, tested positive for the coronavirus at the beginning of the week and has been isolating since Monday, a spokesman for Mr. Trump said on Friday.
He added that Mr. Trump has shown no symptoms and is following virus protocols.
Mr. Trump is the latest person close to the president who has tested positive for Covid-19. Barron Trump, the president’s youngest son, tested positive last month. Melania Trump, the first lady, also tested positive in October. In July, Mr. Trump’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, had tested positive for the virus.
President Trump tested positive for the virus in October and was hospitalized as his symptoms worsened. The president underwent a series of invasive therapies typically reserved for people seriously sick with Covid-19.
Donald Trump Jr.’s announcement comes hours after Rudolph W. Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, a special assistant to the president, announced on Twitter that he had tested positive. This week, two Republican senators, Rick Scott of Florida and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also said they had the virus.
After an exposure to the virus, symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear, if they ever appear at all. In that time, the virus can still spread from person to person.
According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mr. Trump should isolate for at least 10 days following his positive test. The spokesman did not indicate which test Mr. Trump had taken.
In recent months, Mr. Trump has questioned the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, saying in a Fox News interview that since deaths from the virus had dropped to “almost nothing” the outbreak had come under control. That day deaths in the United States topped 1,000.
Mr. Trump’s diagnosis, reported earlier by Bloomberg, comes as the virus is surging across the nation. As of Thursday, at least 1,962 new coronavirus deaths and 187,428 new cases were reported in the United States.
This is an excerpt of Farhad Manjoo’s latest column for Times Opinion.
After all that has happened this year, the idea of skipping Thanksgiving has brought me low. I am blessed not to have lost anyone close to me to the coronavirus. For my family, the pandemic’s most crushing hardship has been its enforced isolation, especially the cruel way it has cleaved us apart at generational seams, separating my kids from their grandparents.
If 2020 has taught me anything, it is to resist taking the future for granted and to impose an actuarial frankness on all of our planning. Sure, we could skip Thanksgiving this year — but how many future Thanksgivings will we all have together, anyway?
To find some empirical foothold in a debate mired in uncertainty, I decided to investigate my own potential lethality to the older people in my life. Among other things, I contact-traced myself — an exercise that ended up being nearly as vulgar as it sounds. I went to all of my regular close contacts, then I went to all of their contacts, and so on, asking everyone about their potential exposure to the virus.
What I found floored me.
I thought my bubble was pretty small, but it turned out to be far larger than I’d guessed. My only close contacts each week are my wife and kids. My kids, on the other hand, are in a learning pod with seven other children, and my daughter attends a weekly gymnastics class.
I emailed the parents of my kids’ friends and classmates, as well as their teachers, and asked how large each family’s bubble was. Already, my network was up to almost 40 people.
Turns out a few of the families in our learning pod have children in day care or preschool. And one classmate’s mother is a doctor who comes into contact with about 10 patients each week.
Once I had counted everyone, I realized that visiting my parents for Thanksgiving would be like asking them to sit down to dinner with more than 100 people.
With coronavirus cases in New York surging and health officials pleading with people to wear masks, social distance and stay home ahead of the holiday season, one group of Democratic power brokers in New York did not seem to get the message.
Photos published by the New York Daily News on Thursday show some city leaders at a birthday party for the leader of an influential trade organization, sipping drinks at a private residence in Brooklyn, speaking while standing close to one another and rubbing shoulders, with few masks in sight. The crowd appeared to exceed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s limit of 10 people for gatherings in homes,
According to an official familiar with the gathering, the party, for Carlo Scissura, president of the New York Building Congress, was held on Nov. 14 — a day when the city reported 1,800 coronavirus cases, and shortly before Mayor Bill de Blasio closed schools. It prompted cries of hypocrisy, calls for resignations and, eventually, a round of apologies.
“This is a particularly trying time and there were shortcomings that I regret,” Mr. Scissura said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate the gesture of my friends to throw me a surprise party, but we all must follow strict protocols so we can get past this pandemic.”
At the party, guests were given masks, each person’s temperature was taken and the event was primarily held outside, according to someone who attended the party. But the photos show Frank Seddio, the former chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, chatting closely with Ingrid Lewis-Martin, the deputy Brooklyn borough president, whose boss has just announced his intention to run for mayor. Neither wore masks.
“I apologize for my lapse in compliance with Covid-19 precautions,” Ms. Lewis-Martin said in a statement. “As a public figure in Brooklyn, I know it is my responsibility to lead by example.”
Mr. Seddio gave The Daily News two estimates from that night; he put the party’s attendance at roughly a dozen, and, oddly, the number of times he passed gas at four. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, a Republican who is campaigning in a high-stakes runoff election that could determine control of the Senate, is isolating after testing positive for the coronavirus on Friday evening and then receiving an inconclusive result on Saturday, a campaign spokesman said.
Ms. Loeffler has worn masks while interacting with people, but was indoors and unmasked among unmasked crowds at an event on Thursday. She wore a mask while greeting voters who lined up to meet her.
On Friday morning, she took two coronavirus tests, according to her campaign spokesman, Stephen Lawson.
One of those was a rapid test, which came back negative, and Ms. Loeffler “was cleared to attend” events on Friday, including a rally with Vice President Mike Pence and Senator David Perdue of Georgia, Mr. Lawson said. But the second test, a polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., test — which is considered more accurate — came back with a positive result after her events on Friday evening, he said.
Ms. Loeffler, 49, was tested once again on Saturday morning and received an “inconclusive” result on Saturday evening, Mr. Lawson said.
The senator followed C.D.C. guidelines by notifying those with whom she had had sustained contact while she awaits further test results, he said.
Ms. Loeffler has held recent events with prominent Republicans, including Mr. Pence, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mr. Perdue, who is also engaged in a runoff election that could determine control of the Senate.
“She has no symptoms and she will continue to follow C.D.C. guidelines by quarantining until retesting is conclusive and an update will be provided at that time,” Mr. Lawson said in a statement.
Ms. Loeffler, a businesswoman who is the Senate’s richest member, was temporarily appointed to her Senate seat late last year. She faces the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, a Democrat, in an election on Jan. 5, when Georgia voters will also decide between Mr. Perdue and his opponent, Jon Ossoff, a Democrat.
Astead W. Herndon contributed reporting.
Coronavirus cases are climbing quickly in Japan and South Korea, two countries that have managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic.
Japan has had its worst-ever jump in new cases, breaking records on four consecutive days, with at least 2,508 new cases on Sunday. Its previous worst spike dropped off after peaking at nearly 2,000 cases in early August.
On Saturday Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that government-funded domestic travel stipends intended to help kick-start the economy would be suspended for some of the hardest hit areas of the country.
South Korea has had a smaller increase, with five straight days of more than 300 cases. Last week new restrictions were announced for Seoul and surrounding areas, including limiting the number of people in mass events such as concerts, conferences and festivals to 100.
South Korea was particularly hard hit at the beginning of the pandemic in February and March. On March 1 it peaked at more than 1,000 new cases. Since then the country has earned praise for bringing its outbreak under control, before enduring another surge in late August.
A South Korean health official warned that the latest surge could become the county’s worst if it is not quickly brought under control.
“We are at a crossroads as we experience a huge nationwide wave that may outclass the previous tides,” Lim Sook-young, a Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency official, said Saturday, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
More than 500 people have died in the outbreak in South Korea this year.
Thanksgiving week was shaping up to be one of the busiest periods for U.S. air travel since the pandemic brought it to a near-standstill in the spring. But a renewed surge in virus cases and increasingly alarming warnings from public health officials are rattling travelers and threatening airlines’ hopes for the holiday weekend and the months ahead.
Airlines argue that flying is generally safe because of the various policies put in place to limit contagion, high-end air filtration aboard planes and the relatively few published cases of coronavirus spread in flight. But the science is far from settled, travelers are still at risk throughout their journey, and many would-be passengers have been discouraged by lockdowns and outbreaks in the places they hoped to visit.
Airlines are already noticing that prospects for passenger demand in the weeks ahead are dimming:
On Thursday, United said that bookings had slowed and cancellations had risen in recent days because of the surge in virus cases.
Southwest Airlines said last week that booking momentum seemed to be slowing for the rest of the year.
American Airlines, which has also seen demand dip because of the virus, has slashed December flights between the United States and Europe, leaving just two daily flights out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, to London and Frankfurt.
To some extent, the unevenness of the travel recovery comes as little surprise, said Helane Becker, managing director and senior airline analyst at Cowen.
“We always knew that it would be choppy, but that said we think that people want to travel and they’re looking for ways to get out,” Ms. Becker said during a Thursday panel at the Skift Aviation Forum.
The drug maker Pfizer said on Friday that it had submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, setting in motion an accelerated regulatory process that could allow the first Americans to get a vaccine by the middle of December.
Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, announced on Wednesday that the vaccine was safe and 95 percent effective, and that it also worked well in older people and in preventing severe Covid-19. Another front-runner, Moderna, said on Monday that its vaccine, which uses similar technology, was 94.5 percent effective and that the company also expected to apply soon for emergency authorization.
The two vaccines use a synthetic version of coronavirus genetic material, called mRNA, to program a person’s cells to churn out many copies of a fragment of the virus.
An emergency authorization would allow limited groups of Americans to get the vaccines before the F.D.A. has completed the typical monthslong approval process. Agency officials have made clear through new guidelines that their bar for emergency authorization will be high.
The F.D.A. regulators plan to take about three weeks to review Pfizer’s vaccine, which spans thousands of pages, before an outside panel of experts meets to review the application. That meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 10.
The agency typically, though not always, follows the advice of its advisory committees. If committee members reach a consensus about the effectiveness of Pfizer’s vaccine, the company could receive emergency clearance by mid-December.
Because Moderna is also on the verge of submitting its vaccine for emergency approval, the outside panel could review the company’s vaccine soon after Pfizer’s.
If both vaccines are authorized for emergency use, federal and company officials have said, there could be enough doses to immunize about 20 million Americans before the end of the year, a group that would most likely include health care workers and nursing home residents. There are an estimated 17 million to 20 million health care workers in the United States, and about a million people living in nursing homes.
In a video message Friday, Pfizer’s chief executive, Dr. Albert Bourla, called it a “historic day,” and said, “It is with great pride and joy — and even a little relief — that I can say that our request for emergency use authorization for our Covid-19 vaccine is now in the F.D.A.’s hands.”
Pfizer said on Friday that the company has begun regulatory submissions in Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan and Britain, and that it planned to apply in other countries “in the immediate future.”