USA

US Covid-19 deaths top 3000-a-day for first time

Steady movement toward a vaccine rollout on the eve of a critical review by leading US medical experts comes as Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations surged alarmingly higher, straining healthcare systems in some pandemic hot spots to the breaking point.

Ten mostly rural counties scattered across California reported having no intensive care unit beds available on Wednesday, according to state health data analysed by Reuters.

Thanksgiving: Millions celebrate in shadow of coronavirus

Some traditions have continued, like the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, which was closed to spectators.

Many have also travelled home to celebrate the holiday, despite warnings from health officials.

More than three million people are reported to have travelled through US airports from Friday to Sunday in what was the busiest travel weekend since the outbreak began in mid-March.

But the number is around half the usual figure for Thanksgiving travel, and many people have opted out of seeing friends and family for the holiday.

Moderna: Covid vaccine shows nearly 95% protection

The results come hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer, and add to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.

Both companies used a highly innovative and experimental approach to designing their vaccines.

Moderna says it is a "great day" and they plan to apply for approval to use the vaccine in the next few weeks.

However, this is still early data and key questions remain unanswered.

     

With cases soaring, Biden to announce Covid-19 task force

Biden spent much of his election campaign criticising President Donald Trump's handling of the pandemic, which has now caused the deaths of 237,000 people in America.

The United States saw a record number of new infections last week, with the total number of cases nearing 10 million.

After four days of uncertainty as votes were counted in key states, Biden's victory in Pennsylvania put him over the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes he needed to clinch the presidency. Trump has not conceded and has vowed to challenge the outcome in court.

TikTok: US judge halts app store ban

The app had faced being blocked from Apple's App Store and Android's Google Play marketplace from 23:59 Eastern time.

Existing US-based users would have been able to continue using it.

But they would not have been able to re-download the app if they deleted it from their phones, nor have been offered software updates.

Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a temporary injunction on Sunday evening at the request of TikTok.

The opinion was sealed, meaning that no reason for the decision was released.

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Covid: US death toll passes 200,000

More than 6.8 million people are known to have been infected in the US, more than in any other country.

The milestone comes amid an increase in cases in a number of states, including North Dakota and Utah.

In March, President Donald Trump said if deaths were between 100,000 and 200,000, the country would have done a "very good job".

The previous month, when 15 cases had been reported in the country, he predicted that the number was going to be "close to zero" within a couple of days.

Floods and destruction as storm Sally moves north

It has already battered Florida and Alabama with rain and storm surges, downing power lines, turning roads into rivers and leaving homes submerged.

Coastal communities are now taking stock of the damage.

One person was killed, and hundreds of thousands are without power.

Besides the fatality reported in Orange Beach, Alabama, one person is also missing from the small coastal city in southwest Alabama, according to Mayor Tony Kennon.

"It was an unbelievably freaky right turn of a storm that none of us ever expected," he told the Washington Post.

TikTok: Pompeo says Trump to crack down on Chinese software in coming days

Mr Pompeo said popular video app TikTok was among those "feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party".

His comments came days after Mr Trump said he was banning TikTok in the US.

The company has denied accusations that it is controlled by or shares data with the Chinese government.

Speaking to Fox News Channel, Mr Pompeo said the action would be taken "with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party".

Singapore man admits being Chinese spy in US

Jun Wei Yeo was charged with using his political consultancy in America as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence, US officials say.

Separately, the US said a Chinese researcher accused of hiding her ties to China's military was detained.

China earlier ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.

The move to shut down the diplomatic mission in the south-western city was in response to the US closing China's consulate in Houston.

More tension as Singapore man admits spying for China in US

Jun Wei Yeo was charged with using his political consultancy in America as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence, US officials say.

Separately, the US said a Chinese researcher accused of hiding her ties to China's military was detained.

China earlier ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu. The move to shut down the diplomatic mission in the south-western city was in response to the US closing China's consulate in Houston.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the decision was taken because China was "stealing" intellectual property.