Officials urge coronavirus safety on Black Friday, after an unusual Thanksgiving for many

Here are some significant developments:

  • Traditional Black Friday “doorbuster” sales have mostly moved online, and retailers are staggering their in-store offers to allow for social distancing.
  • Questions swirled about the coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca with the University of Oxford, one of three early contenders for approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Critics suggested the company was less than transparent and wondered whether its most promising results would survive scrutiny.
  • Daily coronavirus-related deaths in the United States have reached levels not seen since early in the pandemic, an ominous sign of difficult months to come.
  • British officials are attempting to swab the entire population of Liverpool to test whether mass screening can help curtail the virus.

Even with several states not reporting their new infections Thursday, the United States still logged more than 127,500 cases, nearly 1,400 new deaths and roughly 90,500 current hospitalizations, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. The impact of the holiday on the virus’s spread may not be apparent until next week, when jurisdictions return to reporting their data regularly and people who may have become sick at family gatherings receive their test results.

As cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to trend upward, eyes are trained on the possibility that vaccine distribution could begin as soon as December, pending regulatory approval. Amid that hopefulness, AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot told Bloomberg News that his company was likely to run a new trial to test the most positive portion of its data, which reported a 90 percent effective vaccine when a small group of people mistakenly received only half the initial dose of a two-dose regimen.

Until a vaccine is widely available, government officials across the United States are scrambling to impose new restrictions to curtail the spread, while avoiding wholesale lockdowns like those in the spring. In the past week, Nevada, New York and Washington, among other regions, have tightened rules on public gatherings.

Some governors on Friday urged residents not to let their guards down for Black Friday shopping.

“Please support Ohio businesses on #BlackFriday!” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) tweeted. “Online, delivery, or contactless pickup are your safest shopping options, but if you do shop in person, remember that social distancing/mask-wearing are essential! These measures will help prevent #COVID19 spread while you shop.”

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