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The city of Philadephia on Monday ordered a ban on “indoor gatherings of any size in any location,” except among individuals who live together, from Friday until the new year, in one of the toughest coronavirus restrictions imposed across the country.
“While we won’t prohibit people from leaving home and interacting, we want to strongly discourage that, because it’s increasingly unsafe to interact with anyone,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “We know that’s a very strong policy, but this gets at the most important sites of spread.”
As the U.S. surpassed 11 million COVID-19 cases, New Jersey, California and Ohio ordered new restrictions. New Jersey ordered lower limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings while California banned indoor service in bars and restaurants in most counties.
— Liza Hearon
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced an indefinite “emergency brake” to the state’s reopening process in response to rising COVID-19 cases.
Starting Tuesday, 28 counties will be rolled back to the most restrictive “purple” tier, which means most nonessential businesses will be closed, the Democratic governor said during a press conference. Nine more counties will be rolled back the second-most restrictive “red” tier, meaning some businesses will be allowed to stay open.
The new rollbacks put 94% of California’s population in the most restrictive tier, state officials said. The status of counties now in more restrictive tiers will be assessed daily instead of weekly, and the rules will stay in effect until California’s public health director says that conditions have improved in the state.
The announcement comes amid California’s steepest rise yet in COVID-19 cases. Over the seven-day period ending Sunday, the state averaged 7,985 cases per day, an 89.7% increase from two weeks ago.
“We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer.”
— Sanjana Karanth
Multiple members of Congress announced they are self-isolating after exposure to the coronavirus.
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said he tested positive Sunday for the virus. “I received news yesterday that I tested positive for COVID-19,” Walberg said in a statement. “My symptoms are mild and I remain in good spirits.” The congressman urged everyone to adhere to public health guidelines and said he will work from home for the foreseeable future.
Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) said they too are in isolation after separately being exposed to people with the coronavirus. According to reports, Pocan learned of his exposure to the virus last Tuesday after driving his mother, who later got a positive test result, to her nursing home.
“Fortunately, the nursing home staff contacted me immediately after learning of my mother’s positive result and I was able to quarantine without delay,” Pocan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, too many people in Wisconsin don’t get that information in a timely way due to the low number of contract tracers we have hired in Wisconsin.”
In a statement, Lesko said she was in contact with someone “late last week” who has since tested positive for the virus. “At this time, I am not experiencing symptoms,” she announced, adding that she will begin a 14-day quarantine and conduct business from home.
― Ja’han Jones
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, applauded early data from biotechnology company Moderna and pharmaceutical company Pfizer that show their respective coronavirus vaccines are highly effective.
“The data are striking,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” about the Moderna data, released earlier Monday. “They’re really quite impressive. … Now we have two vaccines that are really quite effective. So I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be about getting control of this outbreak.”
Fauci said he expects the Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorizations for the vaccines. “Doses could be available to high-risk individuals by the end of December,” he told NBC.