This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Saturday, November 28th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms, as well as 25% indoor dining. Schools are shut down. Certain parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island under a zoned shutdown. Get answers to questions you may have with our "Ask An Epidemiologist" series, or learn more about NYC COVID-19 testing options with our explainer. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:


The state’s total positivity rate for COVID-19 is now hovering just below 4%, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

In total, the state is at a 3.98% positivity rate. In the state’s hotspots where rates are highest, the average positivity rate was 5.65% compared to 3.45% outside the hot spots.

There were 42 deaths from COVID-19 Friday, including two people in Brooklyn.

"We are entering a challenging period of sustained COVID-19 spread across this state," Cuomo said in a statement Saturday. "It's up to you, your neighborhood and your community to slow the spread. Our micro-cluster strategy can target very small areas with restrictions, so the actions each of us take and the actions our neighbors take may seem small, but they make a big difference. New York has one of the nation's lowest infection rates and the nation's highest testing capacity, but it will take the vigilance of New Yorkers to get us through the holidays and through this pandemic."

Health experts await to see if Thanksgiving will produce increased rates of COVID-19 cases, which may start emerging in about ten days after exposure.

In the hotspots, there were 36,745 test results reported in the state Friday with 2,076 positives. Outside of the hotspots, there were 115,610 test results reported and 3,987 positive results.

The city’s hotspots had some slight changes, with Brooklyn’s yellow zone showing a 5.32% seven-day rolling average, an increase from Friday’s 4.94% seven-day rolling average. Citywide, the seven-day average is 2.61%.

There were 3,287 patients hospitalized in the state Friday, an increase of 184 from the previous day, and 433 newly-admitted patients. There were 654 patients in intensive care units, an increase of 18 patients from Thursday, and of those 332 were intubated -- an increase of 37 patients from Thursday.

CDC Advisers To Discuss Vaccine Priority In Emergency Meeting

11 a.m. As drug makers prepare to get federal emergency approval for their vaccines for COVID-19, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel will meet next week to discuss who gets the vaccine first.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices scheduled an emergency meeting for Tuesday, December 1st, and their agenda will cover "Allocation of initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine: Phase 1a; Clinical considerations for populations included in Phase 1a; Post-authorization safety monitoring update," as well as a vote on "Allocation of initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine: Phase 1a."

The Phase 1a group is currently made up of health care professionals and those working in long-term care facilities. The Phase 1b group could include essential workers, like police officers, firefighters, teachers, transit workers, and people working in food and agriculture, according to a CDC presentation, while Phase 1c might be adults with high-risk medical conditions and adults over 65 years old.

ACIP is made up of 15 members, one from the CDC and 14 health professionals from across the country. In total, as the CDC says on its website, the 14 members "have expertise in vaccinology, immunology, pediatrics, internal medicine, nursing, family medicine, virology, public health, infectious diseases, and/or preventive medicine." Another member is a "consumer representative who provides perspectives on the social and community aspects of vaccination."

ACIP chair Dr. Jose Romero, who is the Secretary of Health for the Arkansas Department of Health, told CNN, "We are meeting because the FDA, the Operation Warp Speed, have asked states and other jurisdictions to please submit their plans on Friday of this coming week. We foresee imminent authorization if this vaccine is shown to be effective and safe in the near future and we want to be at the point where we are providing appropriate guidance to the states and jurisdictions for the use of these vaccines."

He added, "This is not something that is being rushed. We have already discussed the groups within the first tier. We are simply going over the data once again and having a vote primarily on the first tier group 1a—healthcare providers and the people in the long-term, congregate facilities."

Pfizer has asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval of its vaccine; the FDA is expected to review the application on December 10th. Moderna will reportedly ask for emergency approval for its vaccine in the next few weeks.

"The plan is to roll out doses of vaccines over the next few weeks to months in order to cover the 1a, 1b and 1c groups. There are not going to be sufficient vaccines for everybody in the first allotment," Romero said. "It is important for the public to understand that we are dealing with select groups of individuals—not the general public."

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that the state could get Pfizer's vaccine by December 25th. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has detailed his own vaccine distribution plan, including how a New York panel of experts would review the vaccine first; the review would take place 24 hours after any vaccine is approved.