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Get a virus test before you travel, experts say as some US states revert to 'near-lockdown'

Get a virus test before you travel, experts say as some US states revert to 'near-lockdown'

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The coronavirus is taking an increasingly dire toll across the U.S. just as a vaccine appears close at hand. The country is now averaging over 1,300 COVID-19 deaths per day — the highest since the calamitous spring in and around New York City.

With health experts deeply afraid Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings next week will fuel the spread of the virus, many states and cities are imposing near-lockdowns or other restrictions. California ordered a 10 p.m.-to 5-a.m. curfew starting Saturday, covering 94% of the state’s 40 million residents.

Amid the bleak new statistics, Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, setting in motion a process that could make the first, limited shots available as early as next month, with health care workers and other high-risk groups likely to get priority.

But it could take months before the vaccine becomes widely available. Pfizer has said the vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing the disease.

Other developments today:

As college students prepare to go home for the holidays, some schools are quickly ramping up COVID-19 testing to try to keep infections from spreading further as the coronavirus surges across the U.S.

This summer’s huge motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D. led to dozens of coronavirus cases in neighboring Minnesota, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing that Congress funnel $455 billion of unspent small business lending funds toward a new COVID-19 aid package.

    The Republican leader’s offer Friday comes after a morning meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. They are trying to kickstart stalled negotiations with Democrats on a year-end virus aid package in the lame-duck Congress.

  • More Nebraska cities are making moves to require masks in public as the coronavirus outbreak worsens and hospitalizations reached a record high.
  • The Toronto Raptors will start the NBA season next month in Tampa, Florida, because of travel restrictions the Canadian government has put in place stemming from the pandemic.
  • Arkansas has one of the biggest coronavirus outbreaks in a state legislature, but efforts to require lawmakers to take simple steps to prevent the virus’s spread are facing pushback. A proposal to require state senators to wear a mask or lose their per diem was tabled. Similar fights are being waged in statehouses around the country, even as virus deaths and hospitalizations reach record levels.
  • Low turnout of people summoned to jury duty nationwide is derailing plans to restart trials for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. Courts in Connecticut, California and Virginia have had to delay jury selection as infection rates surge.
  • Cases of COVID-19 are rising again in Brazil, which has the world’s second-highest confirmed death toll. That's prompting Brazilian experts to express concern even as politicians to downplay its severity in the midst of an election season.

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