2nd COVID-19 vaccine authorized by FDA preparing for distribution (LIVE UPDATES)


Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine shipments being prepped after FDA approval

Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Paul Sancya/AP Photo

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OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. — Initial shipments of the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the U.S. left a distribution center Sunday, a desperately needed boost as the nation works to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.

The trucks left the factory in the Memphis area with the vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health. The much-needed shots are expected to be given starting Monday, just three days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized their emergency rollout.

Later Sunday, an expert committee will debate who should be next in line for early doses of the Moderna vaccine and a similar one from Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech. Pfizer’s shots were first shipped out a week ago and started being used the next day, kicking off the nation’s biggest vaccination drive.

Public health experts say the shots — and others in the pipeline — are the only way to stop a virus that has been spreading wildly. Nationwide, more than 219,000 people per day on average test positive for the virus, which has killed at least 314,000 in the U.S. and upwards of 1.7 million worldwide.

Read the full story here.

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10:46 a.m. Germany, Italy, other EU nations halt UK flights over fears of new coronavirus variant

BERLIN — One by one, several European Union nations banned flights from the U.K. on Sunday and others were considering such action, all in hopes of blocking a new strain of coronavirus sweeping across southern England from establishing a strong foothold on the continent.

Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy all announced restrictions on U.K. travel.

A government spokesman in Germany said the country is working on a regulation to restrict travel between Germany and Britain to protect the country from the new coronavirus variant. The government said it was in contact with its European partners about the travel restrictions too. It wasn’t immediately clear when or for how long the restrictions would be.

Germany said it will also restrict travel to and from South Africa.

Read the full story here.

9 a.m. 108 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, 7,562 new cases

Public health officials on Saturday announced 108 more Illinois residents have died of COVID-19, which has spread to an additional 7,562 residents.

The new cases were diagnosed among 96,851 tests, slightly raising the state’s average positivity rate over the last week to 8.2%.

That number still has gradually trended downward over the last month since the state hit the peak of its coronavirus resurgence in late November, along with other key metrics.

The latest caseload marked the ninth straight day with fewer than 10,000 cases reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health, while the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients has steadily declined over that period, too, down to 4,624 as of Friday night.

But the state is stuck in an unprecedented 12-day streak of reporting 100 or more deaths, the worst stretch of the pandemic. The latest victims included 55 Chicago-area residents.

Read the full story here.

7 a.m. He’s ‘good to go’: Dr. Fauci tells kids he vaccinated Santa Claus

Santa Claus may be immune to COVID-19 but he now has an extra layer of protection thanks to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.

Fauci, who will celebrate his birthday on Christmas eve, told children watching a “Sesame Street” town hall put on by CNN Saturday that he vaccinated Kris Kringle himself.

In the clip, a masked Elmo told viewers that his friend has a question for Santa. Lucy, 8, from San Rafael, California posed a question that is troubling many children this season: ”How did Santa get the vaccine and is it safe for him to go in the house?”

Connor, 9, from Mount Holly, New Jersey, and Paxton, 6, from Geneva, Illinois, voiced the same question.

“Well, I have to say I took care of that for you because I was worried that you’d all be upset,” Fauci said in response.

Read the full story here.

New Cases

Analysis & Commentary

9 a.m. Pfleger plans NY’s Eve march to protest the ‘COVID and carnage’ that has devastated Chicago this year

It’s a case of cheer and fear.

It’s the Christmas season’s most deadly couple: COVID-19 and gun violence.

The coronavirus may have claimed the lives of 3,850 Chicagoans through the middle of this past week, but the violence of the gun has now resulted in the shooting of nearly 4,000 people in Chicago.

Gun violence, notes anti-gun activist priest Michael Pfleger, has killed nearly 750 people this year so far.

Angered by these alarming stats, Sneed is told Pfleger plans to repeat his 2016 New Year’s Eve march down North Michigan Avenue, when cross-carrying protestors draped themselves with names of Chicago’s 2016 murder victims.

Only this time Pfleger will be leading protesters carrying Chicago flag replicas riddled with bullet holes and “dripping” with blood.

“We can’t just be silent over this murderous carnage in our city,” said Pfleger, who is pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church, located in Auburn Gresham on the South Side, which has been devastated by violence.

“The shooting deaths are now on their way to a move upwards,” he said. “These numbers are not acceptable, must not be acceptable.”

Read the full column from Michael Sneed here.

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Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine shipments being prepped after FDA approval

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