Health officials renew pleas to stay home over Thanksgiving as millions flock to airports

Health officials continue to beg Americans to stay home during Thanksgiving, but for many, the warnings are coming too late. Airports from Arizona to Illinois were jam-packed over the weekend, and more than 2 million people passed through TSA checkpoints on Friday and Saturday — the busiest two-day period since March.

a group of people with luggage at an airport: Travelers walk through Miami International Airport on Sunday.

© David Santiago/AP
Travelers walk through Miami International Airport on Sunday.

Here are some significant developments:

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12:44 AM: Experimental drug given to Trump to treat covid-19 wins FDA clearance

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday granted emergency authorization to the experimental antibody treatment given to President Trump last month when he developed covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The drug, made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is designed to prevent infected people from developing severe illness. Instead of waiting for the body to develop its own protective immune response, the drug imitates the body’s natural defenses. It is the second drug of this type — called a monoclonal antibody — to be cleared for treating covid-19. The FDA authorized a drug by Eli Lilly on Nov. 9.

Regeneron’s drug is a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, called casirivimab and imdevimab. The FDA said in authorizing the cocktail that it may be effective in treating mild to moderate covid-19 in adults and children 12 or older and is indicated for those at high risk of developing severe illness. Doctors hope the drugs will keep those patients from being hospitalized.

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By: Laurie McGinley and Carolyn Y. Johnson

12:11 AM: Reports of two promising coronavirus vaccines don’t mean we ‘magically’ return to normal

For many Americans chafing to return to normalcy, recent reports that at least two experimental coronavirus vaccines are highly effective come as welcome news in the midst of a frightening surge of infections and deaths. The first shots may be given in mid- to late December, but that doesn’t mean you can hug your friends, stop washing your hands or throw away your mask any time soon.

The return to many of our old familiar ways will take time, and how much time remains unclear. The answers await more research into the vaccines, how they can be distributed and how many people are willing to get them.

“A vaccine won’t be available immediately for everybody,” says Arthur Reingold, a professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley. He also chairs California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which will evaluate the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.

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By: Marlene Cimons

12:11 AM: Health officials make their final pleas for holiday caution as coronavirus cases spike

With nationwide coronavirus hospitalizations topping 80,000 and case counts on the cusp of 200,000 a day, officials and experts are giving their final pleas for caution in the days before Thanksgiving.

Average cases reported each day in the United States have jumped nearly 15 percent in a week, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. Deaths are also on the rise, with some communities overwhelmed by the bodies — in El Paso County, Tex., the National Guard was called in to help the morgues. With the holiday travel rush underway, public health leaders warned this weekend that “herd immunity” from promising vaccines remains months away and that every American’s choices this week will shape the country’s virus trajectory.

In an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, said he understands that many Americans are experiencing “covid fatigue” after months of pandemic restrictions, now tightening again in many places. But traveling over the holidays and ignoring public health guidelines are “going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now,” he said.

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By: Paulina Firozi, Lena H. Sun and Hannah Knowles

12:08 AM: CDC recommends preflight testing for those planning to fly internationally

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that those planning to travel internationally this season get tested for the novel coronavirus before and then again after their flights.

The advice, released Saturday evening, comes just days after officials at the agency “strongly recommended” that people avoid traveling during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The United States is grappling with a dramatic spike in infections, and health officials fear that holiday travel could dramatically worsen the current situation. Total coronavirus infections in the United States have topped 12 million, and cases are approaching 200,000 in a day.

However, in an acknowledgment that some might still travel, the CDC says those who plan to fly internationally should consider getting tested one to three days before their flights and again three to five days after travel. In addition to getting tested after they have completed their travels, the CDC said, people should stay home for seven days — even if they test negative.

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By: Lori Aratani

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