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Masks can protect the wearer as well others from the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised on Tuesday, in the agency’s strongest endorsement yet of face coverings.

The updated guidance came as the United States set a record for new coronavirus infections for the third time in the past week. Local and state leaders have reacted to rising cases by ordering restrictions to reduce the transmission of the virus and preparing for an anticipated flood of hospitalizations.

Here are some significant developments:
  • Daily death toll records were surpassed in Missouri, Wisconsin, Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota. At least 239,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States.
  • Face masks can protect the wearer as well others from the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised in updated guidance.
  • Trump administration officials promised to fairly and swiftly distribute the first covid-19 antibody treatment, but there is extremely limited supply and logistical difficulties in administering the drug.
  • Investors hailed a breakthrough in the development of a coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, but they also signaled hesitation as infections spike.
  • Saturday’s football game between No. 1-ranked Alabama and Louisiana State University has been postponed because of infections and related issues, the Southeastern Conference said.
4:20 a.m.
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‘Telepresence’ robots make virtual school feel more real

By Jennifer Davis

It has been a year full of the unexpected for families who have had to quickly adjust to masks, quarantines and virtual and hybrid learning, all thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. For Eliza Engel and her son Thomas McKnight, one of the surprises 2020 has brought is that the sixth-grader at Burgundy Farm Country Day School in Alexandria, Va., now attends class with the help of a robot.

“It’s really, truly amazing, because it looks like something out of Star Wars, really,” Thomas says. “It’s like techno wizardry.”

A robot is also helping Amy Kleine’s 7-year-old son, Zach, stay connected to teachers and other students at St. Rose School in Longview, Wash., while he attends remotely to minimize the virus risk to his family members.

3:30 a.m.
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Tourists are buying fake covid-19 test results on the black market to travel

By Shannon McMahon

With global coronavirus cases rising, many countries are now requiring negative coronavirus test results for entry, but getting a test in time can be difficult for travelers.

So it may have been only a matter of time before a black-market option emerged: counterfeit test results. The practice of forging or purchasing fake results has surfaced in destinations around the world, with instances of manipulated negatives in Brazil, France and the United Kingdom.

3:07 a.m.
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CDC says masks can also benefit the wearer in strongest endorsement yet for face coverings

By Meryl Kornfield

Masks can protect the wearer as well others from the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised in updated guidance Tuesday, in the agency’s strongest endorsement yet for face coverings.

Masks are able to offer “personal protection” because they filter the respiratory droplets predominantly responsible for the virus’s transmission, according to a research summary published by the agency.

The advice goes on to endorse “universal masking policies” — a contrast to President Trump’s rejection of mask mandates.

If mask-wearing increased by 15 percent in the United States, further shutdowns could be avoided, and the associated economic losses would be reduced up to $1 trillion, or about 5 percent of gross domestic product, according to an analysis cited by the CDC.

“Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation,” the CDC wrote.

Public health experts have long recommended face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus to other people. But mounting scientific evidence has shown that those who wear masks are also less at risk of becoming infected.

“Recent data has now shown that as a matter of fact, there’s also the added benefit to protect you from droplets and virus that’s coming your way,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday. “It’s a two-way street.”

2:45 a.m.
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Treasury emergency aid loan goes to airline backed by Amazon and Apollo, showing government’s long reach

By Yeganeh Torbati

The Treasury Department has lent $45 million to an airline backed by both e-commerce giant Amazon and Apollo Global Management, a massive private equity firm that has benefited from at least one other government bailout earlier this year.

The airline, Sun Country, had planned to go public this year as a way to raise large amounts of money, but those plans were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The loan, which is part of the emergency airline aid package approved in March, allows Sun Country to receive federal assistance without having to tap big backers such as Amazon and Apollo for the additional help. The airline applied for the funding through the normal Treasury process and put up its loyalty rewards program as collateral, according to Treasury.

1:43 a.m.
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U.S. tops record for new infections as more states impose restrictions

By Meryl Kornfield and Jacqueline Dupree

For the third time in the past week, the United States set a new high for new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, as local and state leaders order new restrictions to reduce the transmission of the virus and prepare for an anticipated flood of hospitalizations.

The day, with 135,428 reported cases, was also record-breaking for the nation in other measures: The daily coronavirus-related death toll was 1,403 — the highest count since mid-August — and for the first time since late July, more than 61,900 people are battling the virus in hospitals. The seven-day average of infections in the United States is now above 120,000, as the country appears poised to overtake these highs by later this week.

Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana topped previous highs for new case counts, while daily death toll records were surpassed in Missouri, Wisconsin, Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota.

No state on Tuesday reported a lower seven-day average of new cases than the previous week.

In states where infections and hospitalizations have surged, many leaders called for people to socially distance and wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus. Some went as far as imposing new rules on gatherings and businesses.

Indoor capacity for bars and restaurants in Maryland will be reduced from 75 percent to 50 percent beginning Wednesday, and state government employees who are able to will be required to work remotely, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Tuesday. Travel restrictions to other states were also toughened as the virus surges, especially in Midwest states.

In Minnesota, where new cases rose sharply since late October, Gov. Tim Walz (D) issued an executive order that bars and restaurants must close early and limit capacity. Walz said in a news briefing Tuesday that outbreaks have emerged in those indoor spaces, where younger people tend to congregate.

Eleven California counties, including Sacramento and San Diego, backslid in their return to normalcy after the state moved them to more-restrictive reopening tiers.

Not all leaders imposed mandatory restrictions. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced Tuesday that he was encouraging residents to stay home as infections have ballooned — a lesser restriction after the state’s highest court in July struck down the Democratic leader’s safer-at-home order, a decision Evers said had “hamstrung” the state’s response to the pandemic.

“We have now surpassed in deaths the number of lives we projected we would have saved months ago if we would have been able to keep safer-at-home and reopen safely,” Evers said.

1:18 a.m.
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Ulta, Target announce mini-shop deal as pandemic continues to reshape retail

By Taylor Telford

Ulta Beauty is opening mini-shops inside more than 100 Target locations across the country next year, bringing prestige makeup and skin care to the aisles of the big box giant.

The partnership announced Tuesday is the latest illustration of the ways in which the coronavirus crisis has shaken up the retail industry and shopping behavior. Ulta’s 1,000-square-foot “shop-in-shops” will debut in Target beauty sections in 2021 and scale up to hundreds of locations over time, the companies said in a news release. As part of the deal, Ulta will train Target team members to serve as beauty experts.

“More than ever before, now is the time for innovation in retail,” Ulta chief executive Mary Dillon said in a statement. “This partnership is an amazing way to further reimagine guest experiences with a partner who shares our company values.”

The announcement comes at a particularly challenging time for retail. Though Target has outperformed during the pandemic landscape, many well-known brands have struggled as the virus continues to alter shopping habits. An October Salesforce survey found that 63 percent of consumers said the way they obtained goods and services “transformed” in 2020, with more shoppers turning to online purchases and prioritizing convenience. At least three dozen retailers and restaurant companies have entered bankruptcy this year as the pandemic “accelerated” the fall for many, according to CB Insights.

12:00 a.m.
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390 inmates test positive in Panama prison

By Ruby Mellen

A prison in Panama said Tuesday that 390, or around 75 percent, of its inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus as the Central American country recorded a spike in cases after a loosening of restrictions.

Authorities at the Penonome penitentiary said that no inmates had died and that those infected were given masks and treatment that included pain killers, the Associated Press reported. No guards had tested positive.

Throughout the pandemic, in Panama and elsewhere, prisons have been especially vulnerable to outbreaks, with the close quarters and, at times, poor sanitation making it hard to keep the virus from spreading within these facilities.

Restrictive measures and the fear of the virus also sparked riots in prisons in Colombia and Italy that left more than a dozen people dead.

Some governments, including Turkey and Iran, released inmates early to create space in overcrowded facilities.

Concerns about coronavirus outbreaks in Panama’s prisons were raised by activists as early as June, when the virus was already spreading within the facilities.

“Reducing overcrowding immediately is key to preventing widespread infection in prisons and migrant shelters, which could also impact the rest of the population. Panama has no time to lose,” wrote José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division.

11:16 p.m.
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Trump officials promise fair distribution of new covid-19 antibody drug, but limited supply and logistical problems loom

By William Wan

Trump administration officials Tuesday promised to fairly and swiftly distribute the first covid-19 treatment that helps to protect people with mild illness from developing severe symptoms. But the drug’s extremely limited supply and logistical difficulties in administering it could restrict how many people get access to it.

The Eli Lilly & Co. drug is similar to an experimental treatment President Trump received when he was infected with the novel coronavirus. It is a laboratory-brewed antibody that imitates the immune system’s attack on the virus.

The federal government Monday granted emergency use authorization for the drug, seen as a powerful tool that could save people from developing the worst symptoms of covid-19 until a vaccine against the novel coronavirus is widely available.

11:15 p.m.
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Leading Iranian human rights lawyer released from prison, tests positive for coronavirus

By Miriam Berger

A leading Iranian human rights lawyer has tested positive for the coronavirus days after being temporarily released from jail on Saturday, her family announced Tuesday.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, 57, had been in jail since 2018 on spying and propaganda charges related to her legal work supporting women arrested for violating Iran’s requirement to wear a hijab, or head covering, in public.

Iran has been grappling with the region’s worst coronavirus outbreak and since March has temporarily released more than 100,000 inmates to reduce crowding in prisons. Prisoners jailed on political charges, however, have been largely excluded from these furloughs.

In September, Sotoudeh ended a 45-day hunger strike to lobby for the release of prisoners amid the pandemic. In a Facebook post, her husband, Reza Khandan, wrote Tuesday that Sotoudeh had been worried about a coronavirus outbreak in her ward. She was tested for the coronavirus on Monday during a visit to the hospital for a heart issue.

Iran has repeatedly struggled to contain resurgences of the virus across the country. Just in the past month, Iran has broken its record for daily covid-19 deaths 10 times, according to the Independent. Starting Tuesday, 30 major cities, including the capital, Tehran, will be under a nightly curfew, with restaurants and nonessential businesses ordered to close by 6 p.m.

Facing a deep economic crisis, the government has largely resisted major shutdowns while restricting the availability of information about outbreaks.

10:30 p.m.
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These venues are high-risk areas for spreading the coronavirus, model suggests

By Ben Guarino and Joel Achenbach

Restaurants, gyms and coffee shops rank high among locations where the coronavirus is most likely to spread outside the home. That’s according to a newly published report based on data from millions of Americans, tracked by their phones as they went about daily life during the pandemic’s first wave.

The study provides statistical support for a strategy built around limiting capacity at indoor venues — such as capping crowds at 20 percent — while allowing those locations to remain open. The researchers contend that such a strategy can make a huge dent in the infection rate while causing a far more modest drop in the total number of visits to those venues.

10:20 p.m.
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Maryland governor reimposes restrictions for the first time since the pandemic began

By Rebecca Tan, Erin Cox and Patricia Sullivan

In the face of record high coronavirus rates statewide, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday reimposed restrictions for the first time since the pandemic began.

Restaurants must reduce indoor dining capacity from 75 to 50 percent by 5 p.m. Wednesday. A new health advisory urges a 25-person cap on indoor gatherings. The governor also issued a heightened travel advisory that warns against visiting states with high rates of infections, ruling out nonessential travel to 35 states.

Those restrictions, which have not been in place since Maryland was in Phase 2 of its reopening in this summer, follow a surge in cases that prompted leaders of the state’s most populous jurisdictions to ask Hogan (R) to revert to more strict guidelines.

9:48 p.m.
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Dow rises, but Wall Street tempers enthusiasm as virus rages

By Hamza Shaban

Investors cheered on a breakthrough in the development of a coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, sending some hard-hit stocks upward on hopes of a recovery, but they also signaled hesitation as covid-19 infections spike and the total number of cases in the country surpasses 10 million.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 260 points, or 0.9 percent, at the closing bell, building on Monday’s massive boost for the blue-chip index. The S&P 500, however, was virtually unchanged, while the tech heavy-Nasdaq fell 160 points, or 1.4 percent.

While Wall Street celebrates progress in the race for a vaccine, health officials reported nearly 119,000 new coronavirus cases Monday. Investors have had to contend with the prospect of a swiftly rebounding economy alongside the harsh reality of spiking infections in most states in the United States. The mixed market reaction also reflects uncertainty over when the next round of government stimulus will arrive.

Analysts say investor sentiment on highflying technology stocks, which largely fueled the market rise this summer, has dimmed. Projecting into the future, with health-care providers potentially beginning to distribute a coronavirus vaccine, investors anticipate a possible end to the explosive growth that many technology-centric companies have enjoyed the past seven months. In a country where the lethal threat of covid-19 has diminished, consumer demand for “stay at home” goods and services is likely to weaken, reversing the economic trends that boosted their rise.

9:30 p.m.
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As U.S. grapples with large surges, China fixates on its rarest cases

By Chris Mooney and Gerry Shih

The announcement by Chinese officials was as striking as it was alarming.

After spending weeks investigating a mysterious coronavirus outbreak in the port city of Qingdao, officials from China’s Center of Disease Control and Prevention declared confidently on Oct. 17 that they had found the culprit: packages of frozen food imported from abroad.

The researchers said they found and isolated live samples of the virus on the outer packaging of cod shipped into China, a country that otherwise had gotten rid of the virus domestically. Two dockworkers who handled the packages were apparently the first to be infected, and they spread the virus at a hospital in Qingdao.

It was proof, according to China CDC researcher Wu Zunyou, that the virus could survive long trips in a deep freeze and still infect people.

“Imports from abroad caused the spread and transmission of this outbreak,” Wu told reporters in Beijing.

But in the weeks since, the Chinese findings have set off a flurry of heated discussion among international researchers about the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading across borders on cold-chain food products, highlighting key questions about the ways the virus can be transmitted — and how international authorities and governments should perceive these risks.

9:03 p.m.
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Palestinian negotiator who shaped Arab-Israeli peace agreements dies of covid-19

By Brian Murphy

Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian negotiator who helped craft some of the most sweeping bids for Arab-Israeli peace but was left dismayed by both Israeli resistance to key concessions on land and Palestinian infighting that eroded his people’s unity, died Nov. 10 at a hospital in Jerusalem. He was 65.

The cause was complications from covid-19, according to his office and family. He had a heart attack in 2012, and five years later, he received a lung transplant in Virginia to treat pulmonary fibrosis. He announced early in October that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was rushed to the Israeli hospital from his home in Jericho on Oct. 18. He was placed on a ventilator the next day.