Please Note

The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.

The United States surpassed 10 million coronavirus cases Monday, just 10 days after hitting 9 million. For the fifth consecutive day, the country has reported more than 100,000 infections, and public health experts warn that the country is entering the pandemic’s worst phase. At least 237,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus since February.

The milestone came as Pfizer announced its coronavirus vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective, which sharply increased prospects that federal regulators will authorize the vaccine on an emergency basis as early as mid-December, and that the first shots will be administered before the end of the year or early next year.

Here are some significant developments:
4:30 a.m.
Link copied

Perspective: Scattered and silenced by the pandemic, choral groups are trying to find their voice

By Michael Andor Brodeur

In March, Eugene Rogers was in Ann Arbor, Mich., celebrating his appointment as the new artistic director of the Washington Chorus by completely scrapping and reimagining his inaugural season for a virtual future.

Every corner of the classical music world has been hit hard by the pandemic, but perhaps no subset seems as uniquely centered in the coronavirus’s crosshairs as choral music, which relies upon — and, indeed, exists as — a combination of public safety no-no’s: large groups, proximity and voices raised to the heavens (i.e., major distribution of droplets).

Look closely at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report covering one of the first termed “superspreader” events — an outbreak in early March among the 122 members of a choir in Skagit County, Wash., that sickened 53 and killed two — and you’ll see singers recast in an ugly new pandemic-era nomenclature: superemitters.

4:13 a.m.
Link copied

Trump swipes at Pfizer over vaccine announcement after election

By Darren Sands

President Trump took his administration to task on Monday for failing to approve a vaccine until after the election, claiming without evidence that the Food and Drug Administration and Democrats “didn’t want me to get a Vaccine WIN.”

Trump said Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies “didn’t have the courage” to announce a vaccine before Nov. 3, adding that the FDA “should have announced it earlier.”

The FDA has not approved any vaccine.

His tweets came after reports that Pfizer’s experimental coronavirus vaccine is more than 90 percent effective, which The Washington Post reported “sharply increased prospects that federal regulators will authorize the vaccine on an emergency basis as early as mid-December, and that the first shots will be administered before the end of the year.” They also came after the presidential election was called for Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris.

The pharmaceutical companies have promoted safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals as their top priority. They have spoken about scientific and ethical standards regarding the conduct of clinical trials and the rigor of manufacturing processes.

As The Post’s Carolyn Y. Johnson reported, before the election, President Trump had “for months suggested a vaccine could be imminent, raising concerns that political pressure could force a vaccine through the regulatory process prematurely so that it would be approved by Election Day without evidence that it is safe and effective.” In mid-October, Pfizer said it “would not apply for regulatory clearance for its vaccine candidate until the third week of November at the earliest.”

In September, top pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer, issued a joint pledge saying they would “stand with science” and not push for a vaccine until it had been fully vetted for safety and efficacy.

“We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which covid-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved,” the statement said.

3:45 a.m.
Link copied

Even dinosaurs are social distancing, as the Smithsonian takes it slow in reopening museums

By Peggy McGlone

About two months after the Smithsonian partially reopened six of its Washington museums, attendance remains low but safety protocols are working, said Lonnie G. Bunch III, head of the nation’s largest cultural institution.

Bunch expressed confidence in the phased approach the institution has used to welcome the public to eight of its branches, which had been closed since March 14. But he said he is comfortable taking another month — and maybe more — before reopening any of nine that remain shuttered.

“People are scared. They are worried. We are trying to understand how the public is feeling,” the secretary of the Smithsonian said in a recent interview. “This is something that will evolve. The most important thing is to be safe.”

3:00 a.m.
Link copied

Maryland, Virginia report record rate of infections

By Dana Hedgpeth

The coronavirus is spreading at record levels across Maryland and Virginia, with a rate of infection that has doubled in recent weeks amid a national spike that shows no signs of slowing.

Maryland saw a record high number of infections Monday for the third consecutive day, leaping past Virginia to record the highest rate of spread in the greater Washington region. Local leaders are considering additional restrictions to battle the rising caseloads, a trend that health experts say is unlikely to reverse ahead of the holiday season.

The rolling seven-day average of new coronavirus infections Monday in D.C., Virginia and Maryland stood at 2,727 — the sixth straight daily high, and up from an average of 1,313 daily cases at the start of October.

2:15 a.m.
Link copied

FDA authorizes Eli Lilly antibody drug that Trump touted, but supply will be limited

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

The first covid-19 treatment to protect people with mild illness from developing severe disease was granted emergency use authorization by regulators Monday evening.

The drug, a laboratory-brewed antibody that imitates the immune system’s attack on the virus, is made by Eli Lilly & Co. Health experts have championed the class of medicine as a powerful tool to change the course of the pandemic and work as a bridge to a vaccine. It is in the same family of medication as a treatment President Trump received when he was stricken with covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

But the initial scarcity of the drug and the logistical complexities of administering it could mute its immediate impact on the pandemic and raise questions about whether it is being distributed to people in the greatest need.

1:51 a.m.
Link copied

Pfizer coronavirus vaccine could be cleared by mid-December following release of data showing it is more than 90 percent effective

By Laurie McGinley, Lena H. Sun and Carolyn Y. Johnson

The news Monday that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is more than 90 percent effective sharply increased prospects that federal regulators will authorize the vaccine on an emergency basis as early as mid-December, and that the first shots will be administered before the end of the year or early next year.

The findings, announced by drug giant Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech, provided much-needed hope for a nation battered by surging virus cases, a stumbling economy and a bitterly fought presidential campaign. It augers well for other vaccines and could accelerate the timetable for reining in the pandemic, said scientists, who cautioned that any successful vaccine will still face obstacles, notably distribution to hundreds of millions of people.

“It’s stunning,” said Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, one of several scientists who said they were heartened by the results, which far exceeded the Food and Drug Administration’s standard that a vaccine be more than 50 percent effective at protecting people compared with a placebo saline shot. “We could have a rollout in December.”

1:30 a.m.
Link copied

Biden eager to jump back into coronavirus fight, but world is still smarting

By Emily Rauhala

President Trump has spent the pandemic pulling the United States away from global health diplomacy. President-elect Joe Biden wants to jump back in.

Biden has signaled his desire to reengage with the World Health Organization and other global institutions but will have to do so amid a roiling health crisis — and deep skepticism among U.S. allies about American reliability. So U.S. engagement with the global coronavirus response will be a test of the country’s ability to work with traditional allies in a post-Trump world.

“I don’t think it is going to be possible to glue all the pieces back together in the short or medium term,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University. “There is a ‘we can’t depend on you, America’ attitude right now and that will not be easily mended. But there are steps we can take.”

12:42 a.m.
Link copied

U.S. tallies more than 100,000 infections for the fifth straight day

By Darren Sands, Jacqueline Dupree and Meryl Kornfield

For the fifth consecutive day, the United States has reported more than 100,000 infections, as 30 states set a record for their seven-day average of new cases amid the worst surge the country has experienced.

Monday marks the third-highest day ever for cases, with 118,953, trailing only Saturday and Friday, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. The largest concentration of new cases is in Midwestern states, as the virus has spread rapidly throughout Great Lakes and Mountain West states, with North Dakota and South Dakota leading the way. Seven states — including Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee — reported new highs for daily infections Monday, while West Virginia recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began.

Hospitalization numbers are not any better: There are nearly 59,000 people battling the virus in hospitals in the United States. The country has not had a similar number of hospitalized covid-19 patients since late July. Forty-five states have a higher average number of covid-19 inpatients than a week ago.

Cases were at 9 million just 10 days ago. Now, the country has counted at least 10,086,506 cases and at least 238,000 people have died. By comparison, it took three months for the pandemic to reach 1 million cases from zero. In the past seven days, the country has reported just under 800,000 new cases.

12:06 a.m.
Link copied

Fauci says he has not spoken with Trump since the president’s Walter Reed visit one month ago

By Meryl Kornfield

Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that he does not plan to give up his post, despite previous suggestions by President Trump that he would fire one of his most well-regarded infectious-disease experts after the election.

“I have no intention of leaving,” Fauci told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “This is an important job. I’ve been doing it now for a very long time. I’ve been doing it under six presidents. It’s an important job, and my goal is to serve the American public no matter what the administration is.”

Last week at a rally in Miami, responding to chants from his supporters to “fire Fauci,” Trump hinted that he was considering the move. Fauci, however, told Blitzer that he has not spoken with the president since Trump was hospitalized with the virus at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center about one month ago.

Fauci also stressed that the surge in infections across the country is worsening, reminding Blitzer that he predicted in June during a Senate hearing that daily reported cases would rise to 100,000. The nation surpassed that grim milestone last week.

“I had said four months ago at a Senate hearing that if we didn’t get control of this, that would be conceivable that we would reach that level and, unfortunately, we have,” he said.

However, Fauci called the news from Pfizer about its vaccine candidate “light at the end of the tunnel.” Optimistic about that and other vaccine options, Fauci said the government could begin offering immunizations to people as early as the end of the year, a timeline that he has put forth previously.

But many officials and public health experts warn that it will take longer before the general public can get vaccinated.

11:15 p.m.
Link copied

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo tests positive for coronavirus

By Kareem Copeland

Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo has tested positive for coronavirus and has begun a 10-day isolation period. The university announced the positive test Monday and said Izzo began having symptoms on Saturday.

Following Big Ten and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Izzo will be allowed to return to the team Nov. 17 at the earliest. Associate Head Coach Dwayne Stephens will run practice in Izzo’s absence.

Daily testing mandated by the Big Ten began on Oct. 26 and no one else within the program has tested positive besides Izzo, according to the university.

10:30 p.m.
Link copied

Dow climbs more than 800 points as vaccine news, Biden victory rev up markets

By Taylor Telford and Hamza Shaban

Global markets roared Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average soaring to intraday highs not seen since February as investors welcomed Joe Biden’s White House victory and promising vaccine news.

The Dow Jones industrial average spiked more than 1,600 points before giving back nearly half those gains. It ended the session up 834.57 points, or nearly 3 percent, at 29,157.97. The S&P 500 advanced 41.06 points, or 1.2 percent to close at 3,550.50. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100, which has seen strong growth throughout the pandemic, tumbled 181.45 points, or more than 1.5 percent, to 11,713.78.

An early morning announcement from drug giant Pfizer and biotechnology firm BioNTech sparked the rally. The companies said their vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective, compared with a placebo, offering the strongest sign yet that a vaccine — and with it the possible end to the pandemic — was within sight.

“I think the 90% success rate in trials is on the high end of street expectations given the 40-60% success for seasonal flu vaccines,” Wayne Wicker, chief investment officer at Vantagepoint Funds, said in an email to The Post. “This is going to give a real boost to a broader range of stocks beyond technology as shown by the outsized gains in the Dow premarket. With greater clarity on both political and health issues, this should provide additional momentum in the short run.”

9:49 p.m.
Link copied

HUD Secretary Ben Carson says he contracted virus ‘probably somewhere, out there in the universe’

By Ben Terris, Tracy Jan and Seung Min Kim

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson told The Washington Post that he’s “feeling terrific” after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Carson told The Post he contracted the virus “probably somewhere, out there in the universe” but it is not certain how. “I was on a bus tour last week. I was at the White House on election night, so there are multiple possibilities,” he said.

Carson, who tested positive Monday morning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after experiencing symptoms, was at the White House last Tuesday for an election night event, as was White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who also has tested positive for the virus. Carson was around senior administration officials and other Cabinet members during the event.

9:00 p.m.
Link copied

Biden urges mask-wearing, saying it will help pull the country together as it fights the pandemic

By John Wagner

Biden on Monday implored Americans to wear masks, calling what he characterized as a small act vital to the country’s fight against the coronavirus as it awaits the widespread availability of a vaccine.

“So please, I implore you, wear a mask, do it for yourself, do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement, but it is a good way to start pulling the country together,” Biden said in speech from Wilmington, Del., which followed a briefing from his newly appointed coronavirus advisory task force.

In his remarks, Biden welcomed the promising news about a vaccine from the drug giant Pfizer but cautioned that “we’re still facing a very dark winter” and said “there’s a need for bold action to fight this pandemic.”

“The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing,” he said, explaining that his task force would “advise on detailed plans built on a bedrock of science.”

The bottom line, I will spare no effort to turn this pandemic around once we’re sworn in on January 20 to get our kids back to school safely, our businesses growing and our economy running at full speed again,” Biden said.

He also made a plea to those who didn’t vote for him to put aside differences and join the fight against the virus.

“This election is over,” Biden said. “It’s time to put aside the partisanship and the rhetoric that [is] designed to demonize one another. It’s time to end the politicization of basic responsible public health steps like mask-wearing and social distancing. ”

8:17 p.m.
Link copied

Washington-area hospitals say they are prepared for potential flood of covid-19 patients

By Lola Fadulu

With coronavirus infections again surging in the region, area hospitals say they are far better equipped to handle a flood of covid-19 patients than they were when the pandemic first exploded this spring.

Hospital officials said they have more information on how to treat covid-19 patients, have sufficient personal protective equipment, and are taking steps to address staff burnout.

“We believe that our best preparation has been our experience,” said Steve Motew, the chief physician at Inova Health System, which includes five hospitals in Northern Virginia.

While hospitalizations have skyrocketed in other parts of the country, including in the Upper Midwest, the number of patient admissions for the coronavirus has yet to surge in the greater Washington area, except for pockets including Southwest Virginia and parts of Western Maryland.

But positive case rates have begun to climb across the region. The seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus infections Saturday in D.C., Maryland and Virginia was 2,563 — a record high for the region since the start of the pandemic.