narvikk/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 64 million people and killed over 1.4 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Here’s how the news developed Wednesday. All times Eastern:Dec 02, 8:50 pmFauci predicts US ‘close to normal’ by summer if 70% vaccinatedDr. Anthony Fauci spoke to ABC News Live anchor Linsey Davis Wednesday about the latest developments in the coronavirus vaccine.The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he was pleasantly surprised at the high efficacy rate of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.“You know, 94% and 95% is almost as good as it gets,” he told ABC News Live. “That’s almost as good as measles, which is the gold standard of a highly effective vaccine.”When asked when Americans are likely to see things returning to normal, Fauci said at least 70% of the population would have to be vaccinated.“If we can do that, we can get a blanket of immunity over this country that as we get into summer and early fall, we could be very close to normal,” he said.Fauci reiterated that Americans need to continue to adhere to health guidelines to slow the spread of the virus over the next couple of months. He again recommended that people curtail travel and avoid crowds during the holidays.“Any kind of congregate settings where you have large numbers of people indoors particularly without masks is a very risky situation,” Fauci said. “It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are or where you’re doing it — it’s a risky situation.”-ABC News’ Haley YamadaDec 02, 8:36 pmUS records 2nd-highest daily death count everThe U.S. recorded 2,733 deaths on Wednesday, the U.S. COVID Tracking Project reported, the second-highest total since the pandemic began.The only higher total was record during the previous height of the pandemic on May 7, when 2,769 Americans died of coronavirus-related issues, according to the tracking project.“It is also the first time deaths have exceeded 5k in a 2-day period,” the project tweeted.The seven-day average for deaths is at 1,584, according to the health data.Hospitalizations in the country passed another grim milestone, as over 100,000 people are in hospitals for COVID-19 symptoms, according to the data. The seven-day average for hospitalizations is at 95,314, The COVID Tracking Project said.Dec 02, 8:15 pmUS records 2nd-highest daily death count everThe U.S. recorded 2,733 deaths on Wednesday, the U.S. COVID Tracking Project reported, the second-highest total since the pandemic began.The only higher total was record during the previous height of the pandemic on May 7, when 2,769 Americans died of coronavirus-related issues, according to the tracking project.“It is also the first time deaths have exceeded 5,000.The seven-day average for deaths is at 1,584, according to the health data.Hospitalizations in the country passed another grim milestone, as over 100,000 people are in hospitals for COVID-19 symptoms, according to the data. The seven-day average for hospitalizations is at 95,314, The COVID Tracking Project said.Dec 02, 7:07 pmICU occupancy surging in several states: HHSAbout 30% of hospitals across the country have more than 80% of their intensive care unit beds filled, according to an internal memo by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services obtained by ABC News.Roughly 21% of all hospital patients nationwide have COVID-19, which is just 3 percentage points lower than the all-time peak, according to HHS.The memo said 30% of ventilators in use are occupied by coronavirus patients.Several states have seen record-level hospitalization levels in the last week, according to HHS.On Nov. 30, Arkansas recorded 1,063 COVID-19 active hospitalizations, 107 COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU and 211 COVID-19 patients on ventilators, the memo said.In the week ending Nov. 29, hospital occupancy in Louisiana averaged 64.2% for inpatient beds and 70.7% for adult ICU beds, HHS said.ICU utilization in New Mexico averaged 95% in that same period, according to the memo.-ABC News’ Josh MargolinDec 02, 7:01 pmEPA chief quarantining after COVID exposureEnvironmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced he is quarantining after he was exposed to a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.“He was exposed to an individual who at the time of exposure had not yet tested positive, was wearing a mask, and was/still is asymptomatic,” EPA spokesman James Hewitt said in a statement.Wheeler was slated to speak at the Nixon Library tomorrow for EPA’s 50th anniversary, but he said he will give the address virtually.-ABC News’ Stephanie EbbsDec 02, 6:59 pm48 NBA players test positive in 1st round of resultsThe NBA and NBA Players Association announced the first results of coronavirus testing among players in the lead-up to its shortened season starting later this month.The league and union said 48 of the 546 players tested, roughly 8.8%, had positive results. Any player who tested positive will be quarantined away from teammates as training camps begin to open.In March the NBA became the first American professional sports league to suspend its season after a player on the Utah Jazz contracted the virus. The suspension of the season, and eventual cancellation, started a domino effect among sports across the country. Games restarted in July under a “bubble” at Orlando’s Wide World of Sports Complex. The Los Angeles Lakers won the title in October.The 2020-2021 season is slated to begin Dec. 22 and will not take place in a “bubble.”Dec 02, 5:49 pmModerna to begin vaccine testing on childrenModerna announced in a filing with the federal government that it will begin recruiting volunteers between 12 and 18 years old to participate in its coronavirus vaccine trials.This listing doesn’t say when Moderna will start its trials in children.It’s common in clinical trials to start with adults and then when the safety profile has been established to add more populations like children and pregnant women.Pfizer has already started recruiting, enrolling and testing its vaccine on children as young as 12 years old.-ABC News’ Eric StraussDec 02, 5:15 pmHHS purchases 650K courses of antibody treatmentThe White House and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced they’ve purchased over 650,000 courses of of Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody treatment for high-risk patients.The treatment, bamlanivimab, can reduce the risk of severe coronavirus symptoms before someone becomes hospitalized.The treatment will be deployed in December and January and complement the 300,000 doses that are currently being distributed, according to HHS.Eli Lilly received emergency use authorization for bamlanivimab from the Food and Drug Administration last month.-ABC News’ Stephanie EbbsDec 02, 4:06 pmTexas to get over 1.4 million vaccine doses in DecemberTexas Gov. Greg Abbott said the CDC is allocating over 1.4 million vaccine doses for the state for December.The doses are expected to arrive the week of Dec. 14, he said Wednesday.“Additional allotments may be made later this month for December,” Abbott said, and “increased allotments are expected in January and the following months.”Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his state will receive 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in mid-December.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he expects the state to receive 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 15 if all safety and efficacy approvals are granted. Cuomo said he expects additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine as well as initial allocations of Moderna’s vaccine, if approved, later this month.Dec 02, 4:06 pmObama says he’ll ‘absolutely’ get vaccine if Fauci says it’s safeFormer President Barack Obama said he will “absolutely” get the vaccine if Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s safe to take, and Obama said he may even have cameras present for the moment to demonstrate to the public that he trusts the science.“People like Anthony Fauci, who I know, and I’ve worked with, I trust completely. So if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely, I’m going to take it,” Obama told SiriusXM host Joe Madison.“I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting COVID,” he continued. “I think at this point, particularly in the African American community, we are — African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans — we have the highest death rates from this thing, and are most exposed and most vulnerable, in part because we have a lot of preexisting conditions.”-ABC News’ Ben GittlesonDec 02, 3:14 pmNext 3 months ‘most difficult time’ in US health history: CDC directorCDC Director Robert Redfield said he believes December, January and February will “be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”“December and January and February are going to be rough times,” Redfield said at a virtual Chamber of Commerce event. “Largely because of the stress that it’s going to put on our health care system.”Redfield said he anticipates another 150,000 to 200,000 deaths by February. That would bring the COVID-19 death toll to at least 422,000 Americans.Dec 02, 2:19 pm2 arrested for flying after allegedly knowing they tested positiveTwo residents of the Hawaii island of Kauai were arrested for flying home when they allegedly knew they had tested positive for COVID-19, said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami.They were arrested by Kauai police for “second-degree reckless endangering,” Kawakami said.Kauai has seen an “unprecedented surge” in cases, the mayor said. As of Tuesday, the island had 16 active cases, according to the Health Department.Dec 02, 1:50 pmNext 3 months ‘most difficult time’ in US health history: CDC directorCDC Director Robert Redfield said he believes December, January and February will “be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”“December and January and February are going to be rough times,” Redfield said at a virtual Chamber of Commerce event, Politico reported. “Largely because of the stress that it’s going to put on our health care system.”Dec 02, 12:49 pmNY expects to get 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine in weeksNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he expects the state to receive 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 15 if all safety and efficacy approvals are granted.Cuomo said he expects additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine as well as initial allocations of Moderna’s vaccine, if approved, later this month.Cuomo says effective widespread immunization could take until June through September.Meanwhile, Cuomo says New York faces “another mountain” in the fight against rising cases and hospitalizations.The governor reiterated that small gatherings are the No. 1 cause of COVID-19 spread in the state.Of the over 193,000 tests reported in New York on Tuesday, 4.63% were positive, Cuomo said.-ABC News’ J. Gabriel WareDec 02, 12:08 pmCDC announces alternatives to 14-day quarantineThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday announced alternatives to its two-week recommended quarantine for people who have been exposed to COVID-19. Quarantine can now end after 10 days without a test if the individual has not reported any symptoms, or after seven days with a negative COVID-19 test and no reported symptoms, said Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager. Walke said the move “may make it easier for people to take this critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time.”People should continue to monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days after being exposed to the virus “especially if quarantine is discontinued early,” he said.A 14-day quarantine remains the best way to prevent spread, according to the CDC.Walke added, “Everyone should follow this specific guidance from their local public health authorities about how long they should quarantine.”-ABC News’ Sophie TatumDec 02, 11:26 amRisk at ‘historic high,’ White House Task Force warnsIn this week’s briefing for governors, the White House Coronavirus Task Force urged all Americans over the age of 65 or with significant health conditions to avoid “any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked.”The briefing said those under 40 years old who saw anyone outside their household for Thanksgiving should assume they’re infected and must isolate.“The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high,” according to the briefing, which was obtained by ABC News. “The national daily COVID incidence after Memorial Day, but before the summer surge, was fewer than 25,000 new cases/day and is now more than 180,000 new cases/day; COVID inpatients then were fewer than 30,000 but are now more than 90,000; fatalities have more than doubled.”“We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall,” the briefing said.-ABC News’ Josh Margolin and Brian HartmanDec 02, 9:08 amLarge-scale vaccinations to begin in Russia next week, Putin saysRussian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that large-scale COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in Russia next week.Dec 02, 7:42 amOperation Warp Speed’s chief science adviser hopes Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved next weekDr. Moncef Slaoui, chief science adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said he expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “to reach a similar conclusion” to the United Kingdom’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.“I hope by the 10th or 11th of December the Pfizer vaccine is approved,” Slaoui told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Wednesday on Good Morning America.Slaoui urged Americans to “listen to the experts” and trust the vaccine approval process.“No corners have been cut,” he said. “The [vaccine] development has been done very quickly because we had great science to allow us to do all the discovery work in weeks rather than in years. And then the clinical work, the most important part that demonstrates the effectiveness of the vaccine and its safety, has been done to a higher standard than what’s done normally in larger number of people but will be assessed and studied in an ongoing basis.”Slaoui described a vaccine as “an insurance against this virus.”“This is what will get us out of the pandemic,” he said.Dec 02, 4:54 amUS reports over 180,000 new casesThere were 180,098 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Tuesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.It’s the 29th straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Tuesday’s count is down from a peak of 205,557 new cases last Friday.An additional 2,597 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Tuesday, just under the all-time high of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.COVID-19 data may be skewed in the coming days and weeks due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.A total of 13,725,917 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 270,669 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.Dec 02, 3:44 amUK authorizes Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, rollout to begin next weekA COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech has been approved for use in the United Kingdom.The U.K. Department of Health and Social Care announced Wednesday that it has accepted the recommendation from the country’s drug regulator to grant a temporary authorization for emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, called BNT162b2. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) concluded that the vaccine met its standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.“The vaccine will be made available across the U.K. from next week,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the National Health Service, the publicly-funded healthcare system, “will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to provide care and support to all those eligible for vaccination.”The United Kingdom is the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The companies said in a joint press release Wednesday that they are anticipating further regulatory decisions across the globe in the coming days and weeks and are ready to deliver vaccine doses pending authorizations or approvals.“Today’s Emergency Use Authorization in the U.K. marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19,” Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. “As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world. With thousands of people becoming infected, every day matters in the collective race to end this devastating pandemic.”The MHRA made its recommendation based on a rolling submission, including data from the Phase 3 trial which demonstrated a vaccine efficacy rate of 95%. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was generally well tolerated, with no serious safety concerns reported to date.Pfizer and BioNTech had already agreed to supply the United Kingdom with 40 million doses of BNT162b2 once authorized for emergency use. Now that the vaccine is authorized, the companies will immediately begin delivering doses, the first of which are expected to arrive on U.K. soil in the coming days. The rest of the doses will arrive in stages, with complete delivery fulfillment expected in 2021, according to the press release.Pfizer and BioNTech said the distribution of their vaccine in the United Kingdom will be prioritized according to the populations identified in guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, an independent expert group that advises the U.K. government on immunization.“The Emergency Use Authorization in the U.K. will mark the first time citizens outside of the trials will have the opportunity to be immunized against COVID-19,” BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin said in a statement. “We believe that the roll-out of the vaccination program in the U.K. will reduce the number of people in the high-risk population being hospitalized.”The companies have also filed a request for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have submitted an application for conditional marketing authorization with the European Medicines Agency.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. 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