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Friday November 27th, 2020 3:09AM

The Latest: Biden task force member wants coronavirus detail

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON -- Dr. Atul Gawande, a member of President-Elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, says Biden’s team needs to know the status of national personal protective equipment and plans for vaccine distribution.

Gawande told “CBS This Morning” on Friday the information sharing has been delayed while the Trump administration stalls the White House transition. He says a smooth plan for vaccine coordination and distribution to states can help save lives.

“There was a plan for 300 million doses to be available at the end of the year,” Gawande said. “What they’re reporting now is 20 to 30 million doses available. Why? Where are the bottlenecks? What are the shortages? How are they addressing them, and what are the gaps that the next administration needs to fill? That alone means delays that could cost lives.”

Gawande disputed Health Secretary Alex Azar’s claim the CDC keeps things going during any transition and the information the Biden team needs is public.

Gawande says there’s been about 100 million coronavirus tests in the last eight months. Now the nation will try to “deploy 330 million doses of vaccine to people twice in the next year and trying to accelerate that to happen in months. There hasn’t been anything like that undertaken. You just don’t simply hand that over and think that everything is going to go smoothly. We need planning and coordination.”

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Pfizer asks U.S. regulators for emergency use of vaccine candidate

— What does emergency use for a potential COVID-19 vaccine mean?

— India’s total number of coronavirus cases crosses 9 million, daily numbers declining

— Mexico tops 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, 4th country to reach milestone

— Health experts clash over use of certain drugs for COVID-19 treatment

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PARIS — France’s government is working to get agreement from the nation’s e-commerce sector and supermarket chains to delay the “Black Friday” discount shopping promotion by a week to Dec. 4, when the national lockdown will be over.

The push to postpone “Black Friday” comes amid broad concerns that French shops closed by the nation’s coronavirus lockdown are already losing business.

The director of Amazon France says the e-commerce distributor is ready to sign up to the delay. The Economics Ministry also says supermarket operators and e-commerce sites are looking “favorably” at a possible postponement.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Authorities in Ukraine have reported a record 14,575 new infections on Friday, more than 1,000 from the previous day.

That brings the country’s total to nearly 600,000 confirmed cases. Ukraine’s confirmed death toll is 10,598 deaths.

The rapid rise in cases has severely strained Ukraine’s struggling medical system. Last week, the government introduced tight weekend restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. Under the measure, which last through the end of November, only grocery stores, pharmacies and public transport are allowed to operate on Saturdays and Sundays.

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — The European Union is giving Kosovo 26.5 million Euro ($30 million) to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

EU and the Kosovo government on Friday signed a deal for the first payment, with 20.5 million Euro ($24 million) expected before the end of this year.

It will assist small businesses and the self-employed and offer grants and subsidies to farmers. The money will support businesses focusing on exporting goods and services.

Earlier this year, Kosovo received 60 million Euros ($71 million) from the EU.

Kosovo is dealing with a coronavirus surge. It announced 807 confirmed cases and 14 deaths on Thursday.

Kosovo, a country of 1.8 million, reported 537 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

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WASHINGTON — The Defense Department says a Pentagon official installed in a top policy job last week has tested positive for the coronavirus, just days after he met with the Lithuanian defense minister, who had contracted the virus.

Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesperson, says Anthony Tata was tested Thursday after learning that Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis had tested positive. Tata is serving as the undersecretary of defense for policy.

Other senior defense leaders, including Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force, also met with Karoblis and have been tested.

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WARSAW, Poland — A former Polish president who has the coronavirus is transferring to a hospital in Warsaw.

The 68-year-old Bronislaw Komorowski, president from 2010-15, has been in a hospital in the northeastern Polish town of Sejny, near the border with Lithuania.

Anna Kulikowska, the head of the ex-president’s office, says Komorowski is in stable condition, but doctors felt he needed specialized care.

Komorowski announced more than a week ago he had COVID-19, experiencing a low-grade fever and cough.

The current Polish president, 48-year-old Andrzej Duda, recently had the coronavirus and recovered.

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WASHINGTON — Gen. Gustave Perna of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program says about 40 million doses could be ready for distribution in the U.S. quickly if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes emergency use.

He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that states would decide, with guidance from the FDA and the CDC, who will first get the vaccine.

Pfizer is asking the FDA to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, starting a process that could bring the first shots as early as next month. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech offered preliminary data to suggest its vaccine appears 95% protective.

Perna says the “states are going to tell us exactly where they want it to be...and as soon as they figure out their distribution plan across their states, we will ensure that the vaccine gets there in a timely manner.”

Health care workers and those in nursing homes and other vulnerable people are expected to get the first vaccines. Health experts say it likely will be spring or later before there’s enough vaccine for early distribution to the general public.

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NEW YORK — Pfizer will ask U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting a process that could bring first shots as early as next month.

The announcement comes days after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech offered preliminary data to suggest its vaccine appears 95% protective.

Over the next few weeks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its scientific advisers will decide if there’s enough evidence to allow emergency vaccinations. If so, first supplies will be scarce and experts say it likely will be spring before there’s enough for early distribution.

Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar told “CBS This Morning” on Friday that Pfizer’s emergency use authorization application for its coronavirus vaccine candidate “means that hope and help are on the way.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, has said in the meantime, citizens need to “double down on the public health measures” such as wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding travel and people outside the household during Thanksgiving.

The U.S. leads the world with 11.7 million cases and more than 252,000 deaths.

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LISBON, Portugal -- Portugal’s parliament has voted by a comfortable margin to extend the country’s state of emergency by two weeks amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

The state of emergency has allowed the government to impose nighttime and weekend curfews across most of the country. Officials are expected to further tighten restrictions on movements in areas of high contagion. Health experts say they expect the recent resurgence of the coronavirus to peak next week.

Portugal’s 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 of population is 769 — higher than neighboring Spain and close to France and Italy, according to the European Centre for Disease Control.

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong has suspended in-person classes for lower primary school students after the city’s top health official said the coronavirus situation in the territory was rapidly deteriorating.

Classes for primary 1 to 3 students will be suspended for two weeks from Monday. The suspension comes just over a week after kindergartens were ordered to close following an outbreak of upper respiratory tract infections.

Hong Kong confirmed 26 new coronavirus infections on Friday, 21 of which were local cases.

“I would appeal to people to stop all unnecessary gathering activities because the situation is severe now in Hong Kong,” health minister Sophia Chan said.

Hong Kong is due to launch an air travel bubble with Singapore on Sunday. Currently, the plan remains on track, although it could be suspended according to the agreement between Singapore and Hong Kong if the seven-day average for untraceable coronavirus infections exceeds five in either city.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s Health Ministry says it is appropriating two private health clinics and their staff in northern Greece as the region’s public hospitals are under severe pressure from a surge in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

The ministry says it had requested beds in private hospitals be made available to the public health system for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, but that “despite the effort, the finding of a mutually acceptable solution was not possible.”

The ministry says it was forcibly appropriating the two clinics and their staff in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest urban center that is at the center of rising cases.

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BEIJING — Authorities in China’s northern city of Tianjin have sealed off a hospital, a residential compound and a kindergarten after the city found four new local coronavirus cases on Friday.

Three of the confirmed cases were parents and their son. The fourth was an individual who worked in the same residential compound. On Tuesday, the city had found a virus case in the same residential compound, bringing the total to five confirmed cases. China doesn't count asymptomatic patients as confirmed cases.

Health authorities say they are sealing off the entire residential compound and classifying the area as high-risk. They’ve also sealed off the hospital where one of the patients went for his diagnosis and the kindergarten attended by the granddaughter of one patient. Parents and teachers of the kindergarten are being quarantined at home.

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HONOLULU — People flying to Hawaii will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test result before their departure for the state, with the new rule going into effect two days before Thanksgiving, Gov. David Ige announced Thursday.

Until now, passengers flying to the islands using a pre-travel testing program were permitted to arrive and then upload their negative test results to a state database, allowing them to skip two weeks of quarantine.

However, some travelers who arrived in Hawaii without their test results wound up later testing positive. That, in part, prompted the rule change, Ige says. The new program goes into effect Tuesday, just ahead of the holiday.

Travelers still have the option to not get tested and quarantine in their hotel rooms or homes upon arrival.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s prime minister has urged the public to avoid social gatherings and stay at home as much as possible as the country registered more than 300 new virus cases for a third consecutive day.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Friday the 363 cases reported in the past 24 hours took the country’s total to 30,017 with 501 deaths since the pandemic began.

South Korea’s caseload has been on a steady rise after it relaxed its physical distancing rules last month.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Friday asked people to minimize year-end parties and gatherings and called on businesses to let their employees work from home.

Local authorities on Thursday toughened distancing guidelines in the greater Seoul area, the southern city of Gwangju and some parts in the eastern Gangwon province.

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