This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Wednesday, December 2nd, 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 aboutNYC 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:

12 p.m. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that it was shortening its coronavirus quarantine recommendation from 14 days to 10 days if individuals are not experiencing symptoms.

In addition, people who have been exposed to the virus can also come out of quarantine after only seven days if they have no symptoms and they receive a negative test. Either a PCR test or antigen test can suffice. Those wishing to test out of quarantine can submit to a test on the fifth day as long as they remain in quarantine until the 7th day and confirmed to be negative.

“We can safely reduce the length of quarantine, but accepting that there is a small residual risk that a person who is leaving quarantine early could transmit to someone else if they became infected,” said Dr. John Brooks, a chief medical officer at the CDC, during a call with reporters.

The decision, which was anticipated, is expected to alleviate some of the burden that was said to have deterred many people from quarantining or even cooperating with public health officials.

Under the current guidelines, people who have had "close contact" to an exposed individual should immediately quarantine themselves.

Brooks said the CDC had heard anecdotally that a two-week quarantine was too long a period for those needing to return to work or school.

He described the 10 day period as the "sweet spot" for ending quarantine, although it does come with some additional risk.

Incubation of the virus is believed to be 14 days but symptoms typically emerge after four or five days.

New York currently requires a 14-day quarantine period. It will be up to states to adopt the new CDC guidelines.

U.K. Becomes First Western Country To Approve Vaccine

The United Kingdom granted emergency approval on Wednesday to Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first country in the West to approve a life-saving drug against a virus that has ravaged the globe.

The announcement will now put further pressure on U.S. regulators, who are scheduled to meet on December 10th to decide whether to grant emergency authorization to the same vaccine. Unlike its British counterparts, the Federal Drug Administration relies more on independent verification of a drugmaker's results.

Pfizer, which worked on the vaccine with German biotech company BioNTech, has said that the first doses would begin arriving in the next several days. But the British government said the vaccine is expected to be made available across the U.K. starting next week, according to the Guardian.

"Help is on its way with this vaccine — and we can now say that with certainty, rather than with all the caveats," the British health secretary, Matt Hancock, told reporters.

The U.K. has purchased 40 million doses, which is sufficient to immunize 20 million of its 67 million residents. The country plans to prioritize older individuals, including those in nursing homes.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the country's Department of Health and Social care, said that the approval followed "months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts."

Both Russia and China have also approved vaccines, but without undergoing large-scale trials required in the U.S. and other Western counties.

Albert Bourla, the chief executive officer of Pfizer, called the U.K. approval "a historic moment" in the pandemic.

"This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win," he added.

The U.K. has been among the countries hardest hit by coronavirus, with more than 1.6 million cases and nearly 60,000 fatalities to date.

Meanwhile, the outlook is worsening in the U.S., with public health experts fearing a spike from the holidays. The total number of current hospitalizations across the country is at a record high of 99,000. States, including New York, are scrambling to expand hospital capacity, including opening field hospitals.