What you need to know about coronavirus on Wednesday, November 18


Now, Dolly Parton is being hailed for saving the world from Covid-19.

It may be a slight exaggeration, but for her many fans, Parton’s $1 million donation this spring to fund coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University, which worked with biotechnology company Moderna to develop a promising Covid-19 vaccine, is yet another example of the altruism that makes the star considered a national treasure.

“When I donated the money to the Covid fund I just wanted it to do good and evidently, it is! Let’s just hope we can find a cure real soon,” Parton tweeted on Tuesday, after early results suggested that the Moderna vaccine was 94.5% effective.

The first vaccinations in the US could be ushered in by late December, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, has said. They’ll be made available first to high-risk groups such as healthcare workers, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.

And, as cases surge across the country, Americans are becoming less reluctant to take a coronavirus vaccine, according to a Gallup poll released on Tuesday, which showed that 58% of adults surveyed were willing to be inoculated.
Dolly Parton honored as MusiCares Person of the Year in Los Angeles, California in 2019.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q: Does mouthwash really kill the coronavirus?

A: It’s trending on social media and generating excited media reports — another study showing an ingredient found in mouthwash can kill the coronavirus. In this case, it’s as fast as 30 seconds.

But mouthwash is unlikely to ever be a solution to the pandemic, or even someone’s own personal protection plan. That’s because many things can kill a virus on contact, but they’re not going to stop the source of the virus. Maggie Fox explains why you don’t need to stock up on Listerine.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

As cases spike, America’s response is far from united

Since Covid-19 hit the US, Republican governors in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains have largely taken a hands-off approach. Now their states are in crisis, Eric Levenson writes.

When adjusted for population, no states have had more new Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths over the past seven days than North and South Dakota. The nearby states of Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska and Idaho are not far behind. That surge has pushed healthcare services to the brink. In response, several governors have acknowledged the failures of their permissive strategies and pushed for stricter health rules and mask mandates to prevent the virus’s spread.

The patchwork of new restrictions came as Dr. Fauci said Tuesday that the nation needed “a uniform approach” against the pandemic, rather than a scattershot state-by-state response. Across the US, more than 1 million new cases have been recorded in the last week, and the daily number of deaths has surpassed the first surge seen in the summer.

FDA authorizes first rapid Covid-19 home test kit

The US Food and Drug Administration has green-lit an emergency use authorization for the first self-administered Covid-19 test that can be carried out entirely at home, offering a potential route for more widespread, rapid diagnostic testing to be made available outside of healthcare settings.

The single-use test, which was developed by Lucira Health, will be available by prescription and is expected to cost around $50, according to the company. The relatively straight-forward nasal swab can return results in about 30 minutes.

The test could help fill gaps in current testing capacity and curb the virus’ spread — allowing positive cases to be more quickly identified and isolated — but health experts have cautioned that data about its accuracy is still emerging.

Downing Street outbreak raises questions over UK response

After overcoming a serious brush with Covid-19 earlier this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is self-quarantining again following his close contact at Downing Street with a lawmaker who subsequently tested positive. That the prime minister’s official residence has once again become the location of an outbreak has raised serious questions not just about how the UK government is handling the pandemic in the country, but how it’s dealing with the risk inside its own buildings.

The building that hosted the gathering, 10 Downing Street, is not just the official home of the prime minister, but a place of work for hundreds more officials and advisers. It is a mixture of grand reception rooms and meeting rooms, where the prime minister hosts events and holds political meetings, and narrow corridors leading to poorly ventilated offices where civil servants, political advisers and other support staff work.

Government staff have described to CNN their concerns at working in these conditions during a global pandemic, suggesting that in such cramped conditions, social distancing is nigh on impossible, Luke McGee reports.

ON OUR RADAR

  • Pfizer is preparing to file for emergency use authorization “within days,” after its vaccine trial reached a safety milestone.
  • Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, 87, has tested positive for Covid-19.
  • A Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine in mid-stage trials appears to be safe, according to a new study.
  • France has become the first country in Europe to reach 2 million coronavirus cases.
  • South Australia has imposed a six-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown in response to a virus cluster in Adelaide.

TOP TIPS

You may have heard the terms “percent positive,” “test positivity rate” or “positivity rate” used to describe how dire the Covid-19 outbreak is in your area. That’s the proportion of people who test positive for the virus.

And it’s a number you want to know so you can reduce your Covid-19 exposure risk, scientist William Haseltine says. He suggests checking the percent-positive rate in your area before you decide to go out, like you might check the weather. Here’s what else you need to know.

TODAY’S PODCAST

“For the average person, they’re really not going to see it until the summer or the fall.” — Bioethicist Dr. Art Caplan

With promising data coming out of multiple trials, the US is now looking at how to distribute a potential vaccine to the public. But who will get it first? CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks with Dr. Caplan about the many decisions that must be made before sending any vaccine throughout the country and around the world. Listen Now.



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