Chicago curfew begins Friday night; Pfizer adds teens to vaccine trial; NBA Draft to go virtual; 223K US deaths

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New coronavirus restrictions in Chicago go into effect Friday for two weeks as the nation’s third largest city fights a surge of COVID-19 infections.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced a 10 p.m. curfew for all non-essential businesses and ordered bars and breweries without food licenses to shut down indoor service.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, more high school football fans will be allowed to attend games in open-air stadiums in some parishes starting Friday. Stadiums will be allowed to have crowds at 50% capacity in parishes where less than 5% of coronavirus tests have been positive in the last two weeks, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.

Also Thursday, Wyoming became one of the last states to reach 10,000 cases, with half of its infections reported in the last month, according to USA TODAY analysis. Only New Hampshire (9,994), Maine (6,063) and Vermont (1,987) had less than 10,000 cases as of Thursday night.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.4 million cases and 223,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 41.5 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.

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

When will there be a COVID vaccine? In general, scientists and public health experts say a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved at the earliest by December, but that doesn’t mean it will be widely available to most Americans. The federal government is developing a distribution plan that would get vaccine to various populations first, such as essential workers, those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the elderly. See what USA TODAY’s expert panel has to say.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

Pfizer expands COVID-19 vaccine trial to teens, prompting safety debate

After months of testing its COVID-19 candidate vaccine in adults, Pfizer recently lowered the age of participation to 16, aiming to include at least 3,000 older teens. On Thursday, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital inaugurated an even younger group, vaccinating its first two middle schoolers.

Pfizer is the only one of the leading drug companies to allow minors into a vaccine trial.

Some pediatric vaccine experts say drugmakers and federal regulators should wait until the vaccines have been proven safe and effective in adults before moving to children, while others say it’s immoral not to get kids into trials as soon as possible.

– Karen Weintraub

FDA approves remdesivir as treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday approved the antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization.

As an antiviral drug, remdesivir works to stop replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the drug’s manufacturer, Gilead. Previously authorized by the FDA for emergency use to treat COVID-19, the drug is now the first and only approved COVID-19 treatment in the United States, Gilead said in a release.  

The drug is also known by its brand name Veklury.

Popular New York City winter attractions announce opening plans

If you thought that the 2020 holidays were going to be all “bah humbug” in New York City, think again.

There will be a decorated holiday tree in Manhattan’s Bryant Park when its annual Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park opens Oct. 30, along with the ice skating rink and holiday shops, reports the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.

The organizers have scaled things back to be safe during the coronavirus pandemic, so there will be fewer vendors, with more space between and wider aisles throughout the park; there will be no extravagant tree lighting ceremony as in years past.

All visitors will be required to wear masks, except when eating.

– Karen Croke, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

2020 NBA Draft will be conducted virtually from ESPN headquarters

When the NBA holds its 2020 draft next month, there will be no parade of top picks, dressed in their best (and occasionally most outrageous) suits, shaking hands with commissioner Adam Silver when their names are called.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Nov. 18 event will originate from the ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut, and be conducted virtually. Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum will still be on hand to announce the selections for the first and second rounds, but the players will only appear via a video link. 

The draft had originally been scheduled for June 25, but was postponed due to the pandemic. It was previously rescheduled for Oct. 15. 

– Steve Gardner

Southwest Airlines to start filling middle seat on planes in December

Southwest Airlines will no longer limit the number of seats for sale on each flight, joining rivals American and United. The new policy, which means middle seats will once again be filled on flights with strong demand, takes effect Dec. 1, after Thanksgiving but ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s travel season.

The airline has limited the number of seats for sale for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wooing skittish travelers. American and United have been filling flights for months, with United executives calling blocked middle seats a marketing ploy rather than a safety measure.

“This practice of effectively keeping middle seats open bridged us from the early days of the pandemic, when we had little knowledge about the behavior of the virus, to now,” the airline said in a statement Thursday. “Today, aligned with science-based findings from trusted medical and aviation organizations, we will resume selling all available seats for travel beginning December 1, 2020.”

– Dawn Gilbertson

COVID resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: Chicago curfew; Louisiana football; Wyoming 10K cases

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