This year, instead of the traditional turkey, Nicole Beckler’s Thanksgiving table will feature two Cornish hens: the perfect sized birds for a dinner for two.
Beckler, a travel agent based in Florida, downsized her dinner after deciding against flying to New Jersey to celebrate the holiday with her family.
“Since New Jersey is kind of locking down again, I thought it best to stay here,” she said.
Like Beckler, many Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving differently this year. Health experts have warned against traveling home or gathering in large groups as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. explodes. But celebrating Thanksgiving — even in a different way — could also lift spirits after a stressful year.
“Showing gratitude in even small ways can reduce stress and provide hope for the future,” said Barbara Fiese, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois.
Kroger’s internal data science and analytics firm found that 43% of shoppers are planning on spending the holiday only with their immediate family. Retailers, like Walmart-owned Sam’s Club, have responded by stocking smaller turkeys and shrinking their packages of yeast rolls.
Struggling restaurants see the break with tradition as a possible opportunity to attract customers who don’t want to labor over turkey, stuffing and all of the side dishes for a much smaller party.
Bayan Ko, a Chicago restaurant that fuses Cuban and Filipino cuisine, is among the restaurants selling Thanksgiving feasts for the first time. For $195, customers will receive the restaurant’s take on the holiday meal, which includes three types of meat, four side dishes and flan for dessert.
Thanksgiving meals prepared by restaurants don’t come cheap, especially when compared with the average cost of preparing the meal at home. This year, according to estimates from the American Farm Bureau Federation, a Thanksgiving dinner for ten people costs an average of $46.90 when the ingredients are bought at the grocery store. But customers are looking to offload the stress of cooking the turkey, as well as supporting local businesses.
“We’re having fun, so it’s livening up our spirits as well,” said Bayan Ko co-owner Raquel Quadreny.
The restaurant sold out of its Thanksgiving packages, with many going to regular customers, according to Quadreny.
“What we made in one day is more than we’ve been making every week since Covid cases got worse in Illinois,” she said.
As Covid cases in Chicago have surged in recent weeks, Quadreny estimates that its sales have been cut in half. City officials outlawed indoor dining once again at the end of October, with the state following suit shortly after. Bayan Ko never reopened its indoor dining room in the summer or fall, choosing instead to draw customers to its outdoor patio.
Summit House in Summit, New Jersey has also been exercising caution in light of the recent surge in cases. Thanksgiving arrives a week after the restaurant opted to suspend in-person dining, both indoor and outdoor. Instead, it’s focusing on its grab and go business, which includes preordered meal packages for the holidays.
The restaurant’s holiday packages started with its Mother’s Day bundle this year and will continue with meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Owner Dylan Baker said that about 200 Thanksgiving dinners will be prepared by Summit House.
And for the restaurants that have been selling Thanksgiving dinners for years, slow kitchens mean that they can take on more orders than usual.
Black-Eyed Sally’s in Hartford, Connecticut has been offering Cajun-fried turkey dinners for more than 15 years. This year, the eatery also cut its turkeys in halves or in thirds in response to consumers looking for smaller meals. Varano said that they cut off their orders this year at 150, 50% higher than its usual number.
“Since business has been so terrible, it’s nice to know at least this week we’re going to get some sales into the register with the holiday takeout,” said James Varano, owner of Black-Eyed Sally’s.
And restaurants are continuing to look ahead to the next holiday for another boost to sales. Black-Eyed Sally’s and Summit House will be making Christmas dinners. Summit House will also offer a prime rib package throughout December. Bayan Ko is planning on creating a bundle for New Year’s and weighing another one for Christmas.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily briefing following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan in New York City, New York, July 13, 2020.
Mike Segar | Reuters
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday urged the federal government to provide funding to distribute a coronavirus vaccine, saying states currently don’t have the money.
“The states are broke,” Cuomo said during a press briefing in Rochester, New York. “Washington never approved the state and local funding. They estimate that the cost to the states to distribute a vaccine … $8 billion. So far, the government provided $200 million.”
He said distributing a vaccine is going to be much harder than anticipated, citing the early difficulties states had administering Covid tests.
“A Covid test is relatively simple, right? Nasal swab to the nose, that’s a Covid test,” he said. “With everyone doing everything they can in nine months the nation administered 180 million Covid tests nationwide. … To do vaccinations, you have to do 330 million vaccinations and you have to do them twice. Twice.”
Cuomo’s comments come as states prepare to distribute a vaccine as early as next month. Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech applied for an emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration for their vaccine. The FDA’s review process is expected to take a few weeks. It’s scheduled an advisory committee meeting in early December to review the vaccine.
Every state has submitted a plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how they intend to inoculate some 331 million Americans against Covid-19 once that vaccine is approved. The CDC has allocated $200 million to jurisdictions for vaccine preparedness, though much of that funding hasn’t trickled down to the local level.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told CNBC that the agency is working to “secure and distribute additional funding to jurisdictions for calendar year 2021 and beyond.”
Associations representing state and local public health departments have called for more than $8 billion to fund the plans. That money would help ramp up their health-care staff, improve their data systems, pay for the ultra-cold freezers needed to store some of the vaccines and prepare educational material to ease people’s potential safety concerns, they say.
Cuomo said he is scheduled to meet with President-elect Joe Biden‘s coronavirus advisory team later Wednesday to discuss what states need to distribute a vaccine.
Biden’s plan calls for $25 billion for vaccine development and distribution, guaranteeing that “it gets to every American, cost-free.”
This isn’t the first time Cuomo has asked for more funding.
As chairman of the bipartisan National Governors Association, he sent a letter from the group to the Trump administration last month with a series of questions about funding, such as how long the vaccine will be provided to states at no cost and whether the federal government will help pay for “boots on the ground.”
Cuomo has repeatedly said it would take “months and months” to vaccinate enough people before Covid “is no longer a problem.”
New York is currently fighting off a new influx in Covid-19 cases. On Monday, Cuomo announced that the state would reopen a temporary field hospital on Staten Island to help treat an influx of coronavirus patients. The 100-bed field hospital was one of many New York opened in the spring as it fought back a wave of Covid infections that overwhelmed its hospital system and killed roughly 800 people every day.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering shortening it’s recommended two-week quarantine period for people who have come in contact with people who have it — a change welcomed by some medical experts who say the relaxed guidelines would be easier for people to follow.
Current CDC guidelines recommend that anyone exposed to a person with the coronavirus to quarantine at home for 14 days, even if they test negative for the virus. Scientists say that helps prevent further spread of the disease before they start showing symptoms or from those who don’t develop any symptoms.
However, CDC Director Robert Redfield said in late October that those guidelines were made when diagnostic testing wasn’t as readily available as it is today. At the time, Redfield said the agency was trying to determine whether a quarantine period could be shortened to as little as seven days with a negative Covid-19 test.
“It’s data driven, it’s under evaluation, obviously we don’t want people to be quarantined for 14 days unnecessarily,” Redfield said during an Oct. 21 press briefing at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta.
Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for Covid-19 response, said the agency is now finalizing those new guidelines to recommend a quarantine period for seven to 10 days with a negative Covid-19 test, according to the Wall Street Journal. Agency officials are still determining the exact length of the quarantine and what type of test would be needed to end it, the Journal reported on Tuesday.
“CDC is always reviewing its guidance and recommendations in the light of new understandings of the virus that causes COVID-19, and will announce such changes when appropriate,” CDC spokesperson Belsie González told CNBC on Wednesday.
Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who leads the federal government’s testing efforts as part of the White House coronavirus task force, said during a press call on Tuesday that there’s beginning to be “a preponderance of evidence that a shorter quarantine complemented by a test might be able to shorten that quarantine period from 14 days” to a shorter period.
“We are actively working on that type of guidance right now, reviewing the evidence, but we want to make absolutely sure,” Giroir told reporters. “These kind of recommendations aren’t willy nilly. They’re worked on with a variety of of of experts.”
‘Should have done this sooner’
The shorter quarantine period could make it easier for people to follow the CDC’s recommendations since most people were likely shortening the two-week period on their own, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Commissioner, said on Wednesday.
For people who have Covid-19 but are asymptomatic, meaning they never develop symptoms, chances are they will no longer be that contagious after seven to 10 days, Gottlieb said. The number of people who will contract the infection two weeks after their exposure is also “very small,” he said.
“I mean, frankly we probably should have done this sooner,” Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “Asking people to quarantine for a full two weeks, to self-isolate for a full two weeks because of an exposure is just going to drive people not to comply with the rules. We’re better off doing something that’s practical.”
Former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, who served under President Barack Obama, told NBC News that the U.S. “needs to optimize quarantine” and that the biggest risk is from four to seven days and then drops off after that.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, an Emory University professor of medicine, told CNBC that the move “makes sense” and recommended that people get tested immediately after being exposed to Covid-19, quarantine for at least seven days and then get tested again to ensure they’re negative.
“We’ve been talking to CDC and others about how do we incorporate testing into a way out of quarantine,” he told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell.
White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that a two-week quarantine makes people reluctant to get tested for Covid-19 because a positive result could put them out of work.
“They don’t want to say, ‘Well, I’m tested, and now I have to stay out of work, I may lose money, I’m not getting subsidized, and I might even lose my job,” Fauci said. “So, it might be that the balance — the better part of this equation — would be to encourage people more to get tested so that they’re not out of whatever it is that they need to be, their job, their employment, their source of income. That’s the real reason for it.”
— CNBC’s Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this report.
A pilot talks on a mobile device near a Delta Air Lines gate at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Delta Air Lines pilots voted in favor of pay cuts that would avoid furloughs until 2022 as the industry reels from the coronavirus pandemic, their labor union said Wednesday.
The deal would allow the company to lower pilots’ guaranteed hours by as much 5%. The more than 1,700 pilots that would have been furloughed by the Atlanta-based airline at the end of the month will get partial pay of 30 hours a month and will not have to fly.
U.S. airlines have shed more than 70,000 jobs this year — more than 30,000 involuntary cuts at American and United — and tens of thousands of voluntary departures. The country’s carriers have lost more than $20 billion in the last two quarters and have scrambled to cut costs as the virus keeps many potential customers from flying.
Delta has avoided involuntary furloughs thanks to the deal and the thousands of employees that accepted buyouts and voluntary leaves of absence. Delta has also cut ground workers’ hours by 25%.
Southwest Airlines is negotiating with several of its unions on cost-cutting and other measures that it has said could prevent its first involuntary furloughs in its nearly 50 years of flying.
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is holding a press briefing Wednesday as the state works to fight off an increase in Covid-19 cases.
On Monday, Cuomo announced that the state would reopen a temporary field hospital on Staten Island to help treat an influx of coronavirus patients. The 100-bed field hospital was one of many New York opened in the spring as it fought back a wave of Covid infections that overwhelmed its hospital system and killed roughly 800 people every day.
Earlier this month, the governor ordered restaurants and bars licensed by the State Liquor Authority to close at 10 p.m. He has also banned gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence.
–CNBC’s Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this report.
FDA clears a ‘new generation’ of Covid antibody test designed to tell how well someone is protected against the virus
A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) inserts a Covid-19 test tube into a box at a drive-thru testing site at the Alemany Farmers Market in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The FDA on Wednesday authorized one of the first Covid-19 tests that measures the amount of neutralizing antibodies produced by the body’s immune system after exposure to the virus — a “new generation” of coronavirus test that is designed to tell how well someone is protected against infection.
The body’s immune system produces antibodies to combat viruses and other foreign pathogens that invade the body. When it comes to Covid-19, it remains unclear how much protection antibodies provide and how long that might last, but this test could help researchers better understand the role of Covid antibodies in immune protection.
Unlike many previously authorized Covid antibody tests that can tell if you’ve had the virus or not, the COVID-SeroKlir test measures your specific levels of Covid-19 neutralizing antibodies. The Food and Drug Administration has previously authorized some tests that estimate the level of antibodies, but not specifically for neutralizing antibodies.
The FDA cautioned that much remains unknown about the nature of Covid-19 neutralizing antibodies in humans and that a high level of antibodies does not necessarily guarantee immunity against the virus.
But the new test is important because it can be used by researchers to further study the relationship between Covid-19 antibodies and protection against the virus. That’s relevant for protection generated by both previous Covid-19 exposure and by a vaccine, once one is distributed, which could be next month in the U.S.
The test was developed by Kantaro Biosciences, a joint venture between the Mt. Sinai Health System and Renalytix, a diagnostics start-up that went public earlier this year. Through a partnership with Bio-Techne, which has a valuation of $11.7 billion, the companies are now manufacturing about 10 million tests per month, Chief Commercial Innovation Officer at Mt. Sinai Erik Lium said in a phone interview.
“It’s going to broadly enable studies of immunity and the relationship between immunity and the level of antibodies that an individual has,” Lium said, adding that the technology is already being used in studies. “A second use of this test is in vaccination.”
Lium said the test could be used to determine who already has high levels of neutralizing antibodies due to previous exposure, and may not immediately need the vaccine. Lium said he’d “defer to public health officials” on decisions of how to allocate the limited doses, but added that it would “not be unreasonable to focus efforts on those who have no antibodies to Covid-19.”
Lium said it also gives patients and clinicians more information about immunity to the virus whether someone recovers from an infection or gets immunized. For example, he said, it could be used to evaluate the effect of a vaccine and whether it provoked a robust immune response in someone, he said.
“As we understand the relationship between the amount of antibodies that an individual has to these key components of the virus and immunity, a test like this can really start to provide peace of mind once we understand that relationship in the coming months,” he said.
Kantaro said the test has demonstrated 98.8% sensitivity and 99.6% specificity for detecting Covid-19 antibodies against two virus antigens, the full-length spike protein and its receptor-binding domain, two key elements of this virus. That means 98.8% of all positive diagnoses are accurate and 99.6% of all negative diagnoses are correct.
“We think that our test is really one of the first in a new generation of antibody tests that provide much more meaningful information to individuals and clinicians on whether an individual’s been infected and developed an immune response,” Lium said, “and then what’s the level of antibodies that they have.”
The test uses a blood sample and must be processed in a clinical laboratory, but it does not require any proprietary equipment, Kantaro said. It received a CE mark from European regulators in October and is in use in the European Union.
“With this EUA in hand, we are ready to immediately supply this best-in-class serologic assay to clinicians across the U.S.,” Chuck Kummeth, CEO of Bio-Techne, said in a statement. “We anticipate that COVID-SeroKlir will play an increasingly important role in the decision making of healthcare providers and policymakers and are prepared to scale up to meet additional demand.”
Eric Cooper, CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, told CNBC that his Texas food bank now feeds double the amount of people it used to compared to before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the United States.
“Pre-pandemic we fed about 60,00 people a week and now we’re seeing about 120,000 per week, and most of those are new to the food bank, and have never had to ask for help before,” Cooper said during a Tuesday evening interview on “The News with Shepard Smith.”
Cooper’s food bank serves eight semi-truck loads of food per day to people in need. The numbers are so high, they have to ration food. Organizers at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank say that one in four people can’t meet their basic food needs. That’s the highest since the Great Depression.
According to Feeding America, 54 million people in the United States don’t have access to sufficient food. That’s approximately 13 million more than last year and more than the combined populations of Texas and Florida.
“Today we had a distribution that fed 2,000, and we have these distributions all the time,” Cooper said. “Food banks around the country have seen this unprecedented demand, and we’re just working as hard as we can to balance the private donations we get, with the public assistance to try to make sure people are fed.”
In the South, the positivity rate is at 11% and the region accounts for about one-third of all coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations nationwide, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. On Tuesday, Texas reported an all-time high with nearly 14,000 new cases. Cooper told host Shepard Smith that distance learning has been putting extra stress on parents when it comes to providing food for their kids.
“A child would miss 10 meals in a week, and if a mom has two to three kids in school, she’s now feeling the impact of the cost of that food at home, and without employment, kids are going hungry,” Cooper explained. “We’re hearing from schools that kids are struggling with their education, because they don’t have access to good nutrition.”
As food insecurity rises, federal funding has been critical with the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provided $850 million to food banks this year. Cooper said that he hopes Congress acts swiftly to support families to get them out of lines for food banks and into grocery stores.
“We just hope that Congress acts quickly, the stimulus package needs to support families to put food on their table,” Cooper said.
Cooper said that if someone wanted to help, they should visit FeedingAmerica.org, find their local food bank, and get involved through donating food, volunteering or making a financial contribution.
U.S. to test run Covid vaccine distribution networks as it awaits FDA clearance in ‘just a few weeks’