NEW YORK — The coronavirus surge is taking an increasingly dire toll across the United States a week before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The U.S. is now averaging more than 1,300 COVID-19 deaths per day — the highest since the calamitous spring in New York City.
On Thursday, the nation hit a record of nearly 188,000 coronavirus cases. The number of people in the hospital with coronavirus reached an all-time high at more than 80,000.
Health experts are concerned Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings will fuel the spread of the virus. Many states and cities are imposing near-lockdowns or other restrictions. California ordered a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, covering 94% of the state’s 40 million residents. New York City closed its schools on Thursday.
Total confirmed infections in the U.S. have eclipsed 11.7 million. There have been more than 252,000 confirmed deaths. Both categories lead the world.
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
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — The British government says it has asked the country’s medicines regulator to begin assessing a vaccine for COVID-19.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency had begun receiving data from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech about their vaccine, one of several in development.
Hancock says if approved, vaccination of the U.K. population could begin in December “with the bulk of the rollout in the new year.”
He says vaccination will be done in stages, starting with the elderly and most vulnerable. The vaccine will be delivered by doctors and pharmacists, in hospitals and at specially built vaccination centers.
Hancock says vaccinating the entire population would be a “massive logistical challenge” but the National Health Service was up to the task.
BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota has surpassed 70,000 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.
The Department of Health reported 1,408 news cases Friday and 23 more deaths. The latest deaths bring the total to 818, in age ranges from 50s to 100s.
The department reported 13 new coronavirus hospitalizations Friday for a total of 289.
There were seven ICU beds and 187 inpatient beds available in North Dakota, according to state data.
OMAHA, Neb. — More Nebraska cities are making moves to require masks in public as the coronavirus outbreak worsens and hospitalizations reached a record high.
Nebraska set a record of 983 hospitalizations across the state on Thursday, five more than the day before.
The Omaha suburbs of Bellevue, Papillion, Ralston, Gretna and La Vista are considering masks in public, the Omaha World-Herald reported. This week, the cities of Beatrice and Kearney passed mask mandates. Grand Island will consider it next week.
Nebraska has the fifth-highest rate of infection in the country. Over the past week, one out of every 115 people in the state was diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
On Thursday, 2,663 registered cases raised the statewide total to 109,280. There were 28 more deaths, bringing the total to 854.
MADRID — Spain recorded 15,156 new infections on Friday.
The 14-day average of cases per 100,000 people fell to 419 from the Nov. 9 peak of 529. That’s also below the European average of 608 cases registered on Sunday.
Spain has more than 1.52 million confirmed cases and nearly 42,300 deaths, including 328 new deaths confirmed on Friday.
Official data showed COVID-19 patients are taking up 14% of hospital beds and just over 30% of intensive care units, a slight improvement from previous days.
The decline on infections has been faster in Madrid, which became one of the main coronavirus hot spots this summer. Still, regional authorities on Friday announced that all but essential travel in and out of the region would be closed for four days in early December to avoid spread during an extended national holiday.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico opened an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients in a renovated former hospital in Albuquerque.
The state Department of Health said the Gibson Medical Center will serve adults who don’t require acute care. The facility won’t have an emergency hospital, intensive care unit or surgical suite.
It initially will provide 25 beds for patients needing nursing care and an additional 25 beds for isolation or quarantine. Capacity can be expanded to up to 180 beds. The department says the facility will alleviate some of what it called “the immense pressure” on hospitals in the state.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.