Coronavirus updates: First 6.4M doses of COVID vaccine likely in December; New Mexico approves $330M stimulus bill; US death toll nears 260K

Coronavirus updates: First 6.4M doses of COVID vaccine
likely in December; New Mexico approves $330M stimulus bill; US
death toll nears 260K 1
CLOSECoronavirus updates: First 6.4M doses of COVID vaccine
likely in December; New Mexico approves $330M stimulus bill; US
death toll nears 260K 2

A nurse fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Nebraska sent an urgent message as positive cases passed 100,000 in her state. Storyful

Federal government officials said the first 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be distributed to U.S. communities as early as December within 24 hours of approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

That doesn’t mean Americans should let down their guard over Thanksgiving, experts warn.

Several state restrictions go into effect Wednesday just hours before the Thanksgiving holiday, including a ban on alcohol sales at restaurants and bars in Pennsylvania. State health officials ordered restaurants and bars to not sell alcohol starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday until 8 a.m. Thursday in an effort to prevent social gatherings.

“It turns out the biggest day for drinking is the day before Thanksgiving,” Gov. Tom Wolf said at a news conference this week. “When people get together in that situation, it leads to the exchange of fluids that leads to the increase in infection.”

Overseas, British authorities relaxed restrictions on social gatherings to allow people to celebrate the Christmas holiday with friends and family. Officials in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland created a holiday plan to allow up to three households create a “Christmas bubble” between Dec. 23 and 27.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12.5 million cases and over 259,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 59.6 million cases and 1.4 million deaths.

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New Mexico approves $330M relief bill, including stimulus checks

New Mexico lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill that will deliver a one-time $1,200 check to all types of unemployed workers and up to $50,000 for certain businesses.

The bill also provides smaller stimulus checks to immigrants without legal status in the country and dependents, as well as additional funds for food banks, virus testing and contact tracing efforts.

Most of the proposed spending will be made possible by federal relief funding previously assigned to New Mexico, including around $319 million in unspent funds that were expected to expire soon. An additional $10 million in state general funds were allocated for testing and tracing efforts.

The bill allocates $100 million to support businesses with 100 or fewer employees. The New Mexico Finance Authority is tasked with distributing the grants, which can be up to $50,000, and has wide discretion about whom to choose. It’s instructed to focus on the service industry.

Texas judge implements new shelter-at-home curfew in El Paso

Judge Ricardo Samaniego implemented a new curfew to combat the surge of COVID-19 cases in El Paso, Texas. The 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew goes into effect Wednesday and will last until Monday.

However, unlike his previous curfew, people would not be barred from going to businesses outside those hours, Samaniego told the El Paso Times Monday.

The curfew sends a message that “we are serious about this and have to do something” to curb the rise in cases, he said. Even if the COVID-19 numbers go down, it’s still a serious problem in El Paso County based on existing cases, he said.

“It is a shelter-at-home order. Residents are encouraged to stay at home,” Samaniego said. “We want no more than 10 people to gather together in public or at home.”

– Aaron A. Bedoya, El Paso Times

OAN suspended from YouTube for COVID misinformation

One America News Network, a right-wing cable network touted by President Donald Trump, has been suspended from YouTube after repeatedly posting misinformation about COVID-19.

“After careful review, we removed a video from OANN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming there’s a guaranteed cure,” Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson, said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY.

Citing repeated violations of YouTube’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, Choi said OANN’s account has also been suspended from the program that allows it to monetize its channel.

The network, also known as OAN, has developed a reputation for airing baseless conspiracy theories and spreading false information, including about COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election.

– Joel Shannon

Tennessee won’t mandate COVID vaccine in K-12 schools

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that the COVID-19 vaccines will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools once they become available.

The Republican governor said vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the spread of the virus. However, it is a choice he believes people should make on their own.

“Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine.”

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines could be available to residents as soon as Dec. 15. Frontline healthcare workers and first responders will receive the first wave of vaccines.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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