More than 14 million people in the U.S. have been infected and more than 275,000 have died of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday he will ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days when he assumes office January 20.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Biden said, “On the first day I’m inaugurated, I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction” in coronavirus cases that have surged to record numbers in recent days with a corresponding rise in daily death tolls.
California Governor Gavin Newsom says his state will begin imposing regional stay-at-home orders for its residents. The orders will begin when intensive care units in hospitals within the state’s five regions reach more than 85% capacity, something that has not happened yet, but is expected to occur soon.
South Korea case spike
In South Korea, a spike in COVID-19 cases has public health officials urging people forego in-person Christmas and New Year’s festivities, making them online celebrations instead.
South Korea reported 629 new coronavirus cases Friday, a nine-month high in a country that for months has been a model of virus containment.
"It's been 10 days since we upgraded the social distancing rules ... in the Seoul metropolitan area, but the transmission still seems to be uncontainable," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said 463 of the new infections were from Seoul and its surrounding areas.
"Please hold online celebrations especially for Christmas, religious events and New Year sunrise festivals if possible, and we urge you to not host any parties or events at hotels," a health ministry official said.
Italy limits travel
Italy’s prime minister signed an order Thursday limiting travel within the country from the Christmas holiday period until January 6. Allowances will be made for work as well as health and emergency reasons.
Italy recorded 23,255 new COVID cases Thursday and 933 deaths.
Beware of hackers
As the U.S. prepares plans to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine, officials warned Thursday that hackers are targeting companies essential to its rollout.
In a blog post released Thursday, IBM said it has uncovered a phishing plot targeting “organizations associated with a COVID-19 cold chain,” referring to the chain of people and businesses responsible for storing the vaccine at the necessary cold temperatures.