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Most of California is headed for new stay-at-home orders, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Thursday, saying major regions of the state are days away from critically low hospital capacity that will trigger new restrictions.

Newsom warned that 4 of the 5 geographic regions dividing the state could soon need to pull “the emergency brake” and enact a three-week limited lockdown. Under the new order, residents would be directed to remain in their homes except for essential activities; restaurants would only offer takeout or delivery; and bars, wineries, hair salons and other personal services would close.

Schools could remain open, as well as retail with a maximum 20 percent capacity. These restrictions would be enforced in conjunction with already-implemented local and statewide rules, including a 10 p.m. curfew in most of the populous counties.

Here are some significant developments:

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4:30 a.m.
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A pandemic winter feels daunting. Here’s how parents can help kids cope.

“He’s over it,” a friend said of her son recently. “He doesn’t like the cold. He doesn’t want to play outside anymore.” And so, she said, her remote-schooling 10-year-old will get through this mess as best he can, even if that means more time playing video games with friends.

After three seasons of this pandemic during which kids could mostly cure their cabin fever with bike rides and socially distanced outdoor games, we’re staring down the next few months of winter, where one short day pushes into the next short day. The kids are done. D-O-N-E. The parents are out of ideas and patience. And yet, we have no choice but to navigate this time as we continue to work (at home or in person), go to school (at home or in person) and attempt to still like one another when this is all over.

So how are we going to get through these upcoming cold, dark days? I asked experts and parents for their ideas.

4:00 a.m.
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Facebook steps up campaign to ban false information about covid-19 vaccines

With a covid-19 vaccine around the corner, Facebook will step up its efforts to remove false claims about vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, the company said Thursday.

The company says it will remove false claims that could include misinformation about the safety, efficacy, ingredients, or side effects of the vaccines. It will also remove specific conspiracy theories, such as baseless claims that vaccines contain microchips or that certain populations will be forced to be vaccinated.

The company already prohibits misinformation related to the coronavirus, as well as advertising opposing vaccinations, so most false claims about vaccines would already have effectively been prohibited on both Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.

3:30 a.m.
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Hackers try to penetrate the vital ‘cold chain’ for coronavirus vaccines, security team reports

LONDON — Sophisticated hackers, assumed to be state agents, have been carrying out a global phishing campaign targeting the vital “cold chain” that will protect coronavirus vaccines during storage and transport, IBM security researchers reported on Thursday.

The IBM team said the “precision targeting of executives and key global organizations hold the potential hallmarks of a nation-state tradecraft.”

The hackers took measures to hide their tracks, and the cyber-sleuths did not name which state might be behind the campaign.

The IBM team said it was not known why the hackers were trying to penetrate the systems. It suggested the intruders might either want to steal information, glean details about technology or contracts, create confusion and distrust, or to disrupt the vaccine supply chains themselves.

2:56 a.m.
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Fauci says his daily schedule is like ‘drinking out of a fire hose’

In one of the most isolating years of recent history, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci is very, very alone — if you don’t count his wife and a swarm of federal agents to protect him from harassing and threatening fanatics.

“They drive me to work, they stay here, they make sure that nobody tries to break in [to my home] and, as Steve Bannon would like, have somebody behead me,” Fauci told HuffPost of the agents, referencing the violent diatribe that got the former Trump strategist banned from Twitter.

“I don’t socialize,” Fauci continued. “It’s my wife and I and the federal agents. We’ve sort of become like a new family unit.”

Fauci told HuffPost that he didn’t even see his adult children for Thanksgiving — following his own guidance to avoid gathering with family and friends (although record travel figures hint that maybe not everyone took that advice to heart).

He also steers clear of taking public transit and running errands, avoiding catching the virus he is tasked with fighting.

“One, because nobody wants to get infected, but two, I really have an important job that I’d hate to be laid up for because I got infected,” he said.

Despite the solitude, Fauci’s 18-hour workdays are jam-packed with interviews with journalists, meetings with other doctors and speeches to the masses. His breaks are often filled with corralling his email inbox: After the thousand-plus emails he receives daily are screened, he’s still left with a “few hundred,” he told the news outlet.

“It’s just, you know, drinking out of a fire hose trying to keep ahead of everything that’s going on,” he said.

2:30 a.m.
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Covid vaccine side effects are no reason to avoid the shots, doctors say

Ahead of the anticipated distribution of Moderna’s two-dose vaccine and a similar vaccine developed by Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech, which could be coming in a matter of weeks, experts have stressed the importance of transparent messaging in ensuring wide public acceptance and completion of the vaccination regimens.

Though a full detailed analysis of the safety profile of the vaccines is forthcoming and will be a topic of discussion at the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee meetings this month, the drugmakers’ disclosures about the possible side effects coupled with anecdotal reports from trial participants have prompted concern among some experts that people may be hesitant to get vaccinated or won’t come back for their second dose.

“We talk about these vaccines as being reactogenic, which is just a big word that means the way they work, you will feel that they’re working,” said Kelly Moore of the Immunization Action Coalition, who is also an external adviser for Pfizer’s vaccine effort.

“So, it will give a reaction, and that reaction may be a sore arm or some redness where the injection was given. Or you may even feel flu-like, you may have a headache or body aches for a day or so, and it’s absolutely normal. There’s nothing dangerous or bad about these reactions.”

1:50 a.m.
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Nation surpasses another morbid marker

As the nation counts new records for confirmed cases and current hospitalizations — now nearly 101,000 — it surpassed another morbid marker as of Thursday: The national death toll has exceeded 2,500 for the past three days, for the first time. The last deadliest stretch for the country was in April.

Thursday’s toll of 2,753 comes as the surges in infections and hospitalizations, typically precursors for more deaths, are expected to only grow further following the Thanksgiving weekend.

In more than 30 states, lives lost to the virus are on the rise over the past week, while infections have climbed in about half the country during the same time.

Fifteen states averaged new highs for their daily case counts over the past week, and 13 states did the same for deaths. Kentucky was the only state to be counted among both less-than-desirable lists.

In recent days, the United States has increasingly hit or approached new highs for daily cases and Thursday was no different, with 212,906 reported infections. The previous record was set only the day before.

1:30 a.m.
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With hospitals slammed by covid-19, doctors and nurses plead for action by governors

With few options left, overwhelmed doctors and other caregivers are appealing directly to governors for relief from the staggering increases in hospitalized covid-19 patients as the virus surges across the country.

In Connecticut, Tennessee, Missouri and Mississippi, physicians have issued unusually public pleas for stronger responses to the pandemic as hospitals and their staffs near a breaking point. The number of hospitalized covid-19 patients surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday, placing enormous strain on the nation’s acute care hospitals, where there are roughly 730,000 beds.

The efforts have achieved little in the way of tangible relief so far, and in one case drew a rebuke from Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

12:45 a.m.
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Poll: More Americans say they plan to get a vaccine than they did in the fall

A majority of Americans plan to get immunized from the coronavirus, with news of successful vaccine trials in recent months assuring many about the development process behind a potentially approved vaccine, according to a Pew Research Center study published Thursday.

But there was far from a consensus among the 12,648 U.S. adults surveyed by Pew from Nov. 18 to 29. If a coronavirus vaccine were available today, 60 percent said they would definitely or probably get it, while 39 percent said they would definitely or probably not. About half of those who wouldn’t immediately get immunized said they would possibly wait until other people got vaccinated and more information was available. Twenty-one percent said they were “pretty certain” more findings would not change their mind about refusing to get vaccinated.

The findings reveal increased confidence in the vaccine development and approval process. In September, 51 percent said they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus, and 65 percent said they had a fair amount of assurance about the system in place to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration. That figure was up 10 percentage points in Pew’s latest study. Trust in a potential vaccine had waned after Pew found in May that 72 percent of Americans would get vaccinated, but it has since rebounded.

The coronavirus vaccine development has happened at record speed, with Pfizer and Moderna applying for emergency authorization from the FDA in late November to provide the vaccines to the general public.

Despite an increased willingness across all key demographics on getting vaccinated, Black Americans were the least likely among races and ethnicities to say they planned to get vaccinated: 42 percent said they would, compared with 61 percent of White and 63 percent of Hispanic participants.

That racial disparity also manifested itself when it came to how the virus has affected Americans: While 54 percent of those surveyed said they personally knew someone who was hospitalized with covid-19 or had died of it, 71 percent of Black Americans said this, versus 49 percent of Whites, 61 percent of Hispanics and 48 percent of Asian Americans.

11:50 p.m.
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Governor resistant to mask mandate draws scathing criticism for declaring ‘day of prayer’

The Rev. Marlin Lavanhar has spent months praying with his Tulsa congregation for the victims of covid-19. Tuning in to socially distant Sunday services on Facebook, Zoom and Roku, he says, members share the names of sick people for whom they want to light candles — and donate to a collection for all those going hungry as jobs disappear.

So Lavanhar was unimpressed when Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) declared Thursday a “day of prayer and fasting” for those affected by the pandemic. He says he wants action — starting with a statewide mask mandate.

Stitt’s announcement drew a scathing backlash from critics seeking more stringent measures to slow the spread of the virus, rallying support for the mask mandates that have gained increasingly bipartisan traction around the country. Many ridiculed the governor’s announcement online.

11:49 p.m.
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This couple hit their stride after years of hard work. Then covid-19 hit them

It takes lives and businesses, milestones and traditions. Covid-19 also devours golden opportunities.

Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount have been at it for decades, making music in coffee houses, D.C. gyms and stages and music festivals — small gigs that got bigger, moments of despair that turned into songs. And 2020 was going to be it — the big one. They performed at the Grammys in January. Rolling Stone magazine called their band, the War and Treaty, “one of Nashville’s most thrilling new acts.”

On March 12, as the pandemic was in its fledgling days, they played a huge event in New York. The gig ended with four of the people onstage infected with the coronavirus, including 43-year-old Blount. From March to June, they watched their concerts, events and appearances evaporate, all while Blount was in a feverish fight for her life.

11:48 p.m.
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Biden asks Fauci to serve as chief medical adviser, will urge Americans to wear masks during first 100 days

Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, said Thursday that he plans to stay on in his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases after the Biden administration takes office.

In an interview with CBS News’s Major Garrett, Fauci said that he has spoken several times with Ronald A. Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, and that he would meet by teleconference later Thursday with the entire Biden “landing team,” a group that facilitates the presidential transition.

“Today will be the first day where there will be substantive discussions about the . . . transition, between me and the Biden team,” Fauci said during a podcast interview with Garrett.

Before Trump gave the go-ahead to the General Services Administration to allow the transition to proceed, Biden had warned that the delay meant that his team would potentially be weeks or months behind in planning its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 273,000 people in the United States.

Fauci said in the CBS interview that he wished the transition had been allowed to begin earlier. He noted that having been through five presidential transitions over the course of his career, “I know that transitions are really important if you want to get a smooth handing-over of the responsibility.”

“I would have liked to have seen us getting involved with the team as early as we possibly can, because we want the smooth transition to occur,” he added. “Everyone believes that a smooth transition is certainly better than no transition.”

Later Thursday, in an interview with CNN, Biden said he has asked Fauci to serve as a chief medical adviser and as part of his pandemic response team.

“I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the covid team,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Biden added that he plans to ask Americans to commit to wearing masks during the first 100 days of his presidency to slow the spread of the virus.

“Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction,” he said.

10:26 p.m.
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Fauci apologizes after saying Britain did not vet Pfizer vaccine ‘as carefully’ as U.S.

Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, walked back comments Thursday after earlier taking aim at Britain’s vaccine-approval process for granting emergency authorization for a coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer and the German company BioNTech.

“Our process is one that takes more time than it takes in the U.K.,” Dr Fauci told the BBC. “That’s just the reality. I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way.”

Fauci initially raised doubts in interviews Thursday after Britain on Wednesday became the first country to approve the Pfizer vaccine. The company applied for authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late November but the agency has not yet approved the drug.

“We have the gold standard of a regulatory approach with the FDA. The U.K. did not do it as carefully, they got a couple of days ahead. I don’t think that makes much difference,” Fauci said on Fox News.

Later, on CBS News, Fauci said the U.K. “rushed” through the process.

Britain has stood by its approval method, saying the process was careful and thorough.

“No vaccine would be authorized for supply in the U.K. unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met,” said June Raine, who heads Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The FDA is scheduled to discuss approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 10. The Post reported that President Trump expressed frustration with the body’s slower timeline. The FDA’s process is more thoroughgoing than Britain’s: It reanalyzes all of the company’s data and solicits independent experts in review.

Britain, experts said, relied largely on the data submitted by the pharmaceutical companies. Britain’s rapid rollout was met with skepticism in Europe as well. On Wednesday, the European Union’s drug regulator defended its own slower pace, saying the approach was the “most appropriate regulatory mechanism for use in the current pandemic emergency.”

10:00 p.m.
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Most of California could soon face stay-at-home orders amid ICU strain, governor warns

California regions with alarming low hospital capacity will face stay-at-home orders in the coming days, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.

While no region has yet reached the limit of less than 15 percent capacity in intensive care units, Newsom warned that 4 of the 5 geographic regions dividing the state could soon need to pull “the emergency brake” and enact a three-week limited lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus and avoid further straining the state’s health care system. The San Francisco Bay area has not yet reached the threshold, while Northern California, Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley and the greater Sacramento regions are experiencing shrinking capacity that could reach the announced bounds in the next day or two, Newsom (D) said.

Under the new order, residents would be directed to remain in their homes except for essential activities, restaurants would only offer takeout or delivery, and bars, wineries, hair salons and other personal services would close. Schools could remain open, as well as retail with a maximum 20 percent capacity. These restrictions would be enforced in conjunction with already-implemented local and statewide rules, including a 10 p.m. curfew in most of the populous counties.

“This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of the pandemic,” Newsom said. “This is the time, if there was ever any doubt, to put aside your doubt, to put aside your skepticism, put aside your cynicism, put aside your ideology, to put aside any consideration except this: Lives are in the balance.”

Statewide, daily infections and current hospitalizations have topped records: On Thursday, California tallied 18,591 new cases, surpassed only by Wednesday, and more than 9,700 hospitalizations for covid-19, the highest number yet.

Efforts to limit people to their homes are complicated by the raging wildfires fueled by high winds in Southern California, forcing evacuations and driving utilities to cut power.

9:54 p.m.
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U.S. stocks log mixed session on vaccine delay fears

U.S. stocks pared their gains Thursday after the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer could deliver only half the expected doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine next month because of supply chain issues.

Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, had hoped to roll out 100 million vaccines before the end of 2020. Now it aims to deliver 50 million, as well as a billion doses in 2020, the Journal reported. The vaccine was granted emergency-use authorization in Britain on Wednesday. Pfizer’s stock slumped 1.7 percent after the news of the vaccine delay.

“Scaling up the raw material supply chain took longer than expected,” a company spokeswoman told the Journal. “And it’s important to highlight that the outcome of the clinical trial was somewhat later than the initial projection.”

Stocks had advanced, with the S&P 500 index and tech-heavy Nasdaq again flirting with record territory, before Pfizer’s announcement. By close, the Dow Jones industrial average had gained 0.29 percent to 29,969 after hitting an intraday high, and the Nasdaq had advanced 0.23 percent to 12,377. The S&P 500 inched down 0.06 percent to 3,666.

The prior good sentiment had been fueled by breakthroughs in Congress’s stimulus negotiations and a better-than-expected jobs report. The number of new weekly jobless claims fell for the first time in weeks on Thursday, with the Labor Department reporting 712,000 first-time unemployment claims in the week that ended Nov. 28.

Despite the drop-off, the economy remains deeply scarred by the pandemic, and more damage could be coming, Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at, said in comments emailed to The Washington Post.

“There’s real concern that the economy might yet stall or even contract during this anxious time of transition to the widespread availability of vaccines,” Hamrick said. “The severe economic toll stemming from the prolonged pandemic taken on individuals’ employment and incomes, and the loss of employers, could linger for quite some time.”