Coronavirus updates: Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida schools to stay open in 2021; Alaska’s largest city tightens restrictions; 268K US death

An advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet Tuesday to vote on who will get the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Front-line health workers will be first in line, with first responders, long-term care patients, people with underlying conditions, people over 65 and essential workers also being considered.

Tuesday’s meeting comes a day after Biotech company Moderna applied for F.D.A. authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the second vaccine maker to request authorization from the federal government.

While the country awaits a coronavirus vaccine and states undergo lockdowns, some filmmakers have been granted permission to start production in public spaces. In Los Angeles, a COVID-19 testing site at a train station shut down Monday to allow Miramax to film a remake of “She’s All That,” according to Deadline. While students continue virtual learning in Atlanta, the production team and cast of “Spider-Man” received special permission from Atlanta Public Schools to film at two different high schools next year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 13.5 million cases and over 268,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 63.1 million cases and 1.46 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

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Alaska’s largest city begins modified ‘hunker-down’

A modified stay-at-home order begins Tuesday in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska. The order begins at 8 a.m. local time and is scheduled to go until Jan. 1, 2021.

The new order requires restaurants and bars to shut down in-door dining. Takeout, delivery and outdoor dining are still allowed with some restrictions. Indoor gatherings are limited to six people and outdoor gatherings at 10 people. Gyms and fitness centers will go from 50% capacity to 25%.

Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced the new order last week as the city experienced a “record-breaking surge” of coronavirus cases. Former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued a similar order in August for a “four-week reset,” according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Anchorage has over 16,500 infections and 68 deaths, according to state data. Statewide there are over 31,000 confirmed cases and 120 deaths.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: Florida schools will stay open in 2021

Florida public schools will remain open in 2021 and families will continue to have the option to keep students at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday. 

But the news came with one caveat: parents with students who are struggling academically in remote learning situations will be notified by their school districts and the students will be required to return to in-person instruction — unless the family again actively elects to keep the student at home. The caveat is part of a new emergency order issued by Richard Corcoran, Florida’s commissioner of education.

DeSantis at a press conference called closing public schools during the coronavirus pandemic the “biggest public health blunder” in modern U.S. history and called his detractors “flat-earthers.” He said the effects of closing schools will be felt for years. 

The announcement comes as Florida has seen a surge in cases in past weeks and is poised to cross the million-case mark on Tuesday.

– CD Davidson-Hiers, Tallahassee Democrat

Another Michigan lawmaker tests positive for COVID

Michigan Rep. John Chirkun on Monday said he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Chirkun, a Democrat, is at least the 11th state lawmaker to have either a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.

“Rep. Chirkun is doing well and in very good spirits. I wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to him returning to session following his quarantine,” House Minority Leader Christine Greig said in a statement.

Greig said Chirkun will not attend meetings at the state Capitol this week, which the state Legislature is scheduled to return a two-week break.

The diagnosis comes at the same time businesses around the state face strict operating regulations and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants lawmakers to pass a $100 million COVID-19 relief plan. 

– Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom warns of tougher restrictions

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday warned a stay-at-home order could soon be implemented in counties with widespread COVID-19 transmission if they continue to see a surge of new cases that could potentially overwhelm local hospital systems.

In the past two weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state increased 89% while COVID-19 patient admissions into intensive care unit beds increased 67%. But that rise is just the tip of the iceberg, officials said. 

“We anticipate another large increase in cases within the next one to two weeks from Thanksgiving activities and gatherings,” Newsom said.

Newson also said he anticipates California will receive an initial 327,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by mid-December. The first dose will be given in mid-December and the second dose will be given three weeks later, Newsom said.

– Nicole Hayden, Palm Springs Desert Sun

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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